WORKS: Darkness in Light (Violin Concerto); Ignite
PERFORMER: Pekka Kuusisto (violin); Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Lintu
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-2093 (hybrid CD/SACD)
As the title of Sebastian Fagerlund’s Violin Concerto, Darkness in Light, suggests, this is a composer who delights in contrast. And however clichéd this sounds, he also has that sense of organic, evolving continuity which so often seems to triumph in music from the Nordic countries. When Sibelius created a kind of symphonic writing that was, as he put it, ‘like a river’, he left a model that’s turned out to be surprisingly enduring and adaptable.
For all the occasionally nervy, edgy elements in Fagerlund’s style, there is a sense of optimism and delight in invention that emerges in both these works. Granted, there are also elements of what it’s tempting to call contemporary music ‘house style’ – the colourful swirling textures and rapid repeated-note toccata figures that turn up in so many new works post-Lindberg and post-Adams. Clearly identifiable themes are harder to identify. But an authentic single-mindedness prevails in the end. And there are passages, like the awestruck Lento misterioso section from Ignite, which haunt the memory and draw one back to probe further.
The performances are strong, confident and poetic, and violinist Pekka Kuusisto tackles the challenges of Darkness in Light as though they were by Prokofiev, or even Tchaikovsky. Typically fine BIS recordings too.