Wallin: Act

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Act; Das war schön!; Tides
PERFORMER: Martin Grubinger (percussion); Kroumata Percussion Ensemble; Oslo PO/Jaap van Zweden, John Axelrod, Jukka-Pekka Saraste


The Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin is increasingly gaining international recognition, and this disc is likely to win him further admirers. The percussion concerto Das war schön! refuses to conform to the genre’s stereotype of superficially impressive crashing and banging. This Mozart tribute combines a genial charm, with flair and a sometimes impish sense of humour. While the meditative inner movement draw on fragmentary quotations of Mozart, the perkier outer movements, based on slowed-down birdsong (inspired by Mozart’s pet starling) show that this material need not sound like Messiaen. A more classic approach to percussion is taken in Tides, for six percussionists and orchestra. The opening is essentially a study on cymbals, which might seem like an arid prospect without Wallin’s sense of pace, allied to, and inspired by, the superlative skills of the Kroumata Percussion Ensemble. Nonetheless, it is the orchestral writing that impresses, even if Wallin professes that this comes out of the solo parts. This impression is reinforced by Act, which starts in headlong fashion before cranking up the pace and tension. It is a star that burns briefly, but brightly, and, like all the works on this disc, is given an utterly committed and convincing performance. Christopher Dingle