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Monday, May 18, 2015

Sebastian Fagerlund, Darkness in Light, Hannu Lintu

In musical terms, how does a post-modern/modern composer capture the world we live in today? The answer would have to be "variously," since there is no one way. One answer comes from the relatively young (b. 1975) Finnish composer Sebastian Fagerlund, as heard in a recent release of orchestral works, Darkness in Light (Bis 2093). Hannu Lintu conducts the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Two works are presented, both written this decade, the "Violin Concerto 'Darkness in Light'" (2012) featuring violinist Pekka Kuusisto, to whom the work is dedicated, and the purely orchestral "Ignite" (2010).

Both are atmospherically lucid, modern sounding with expanded tonality and orchestrational brilliance, but post-modern I suppose with their original forays into more tonal moments. The immersion in tonality shares with the harmonic-modernistic passages a complex, turbulent dynamism that can acquiesce into more open, reflective passages in dramatic arcs.

Kudos to violinist Kuusisto, who handles the solo part with a sort of heroic distinction, and to conductor Lintu, who brings us the special qualities of Fagerlund's music with sympathy and real presence.

Fagerlund opens us to a world complex and perhaps less unified or monolithic than it is dramatically ever-unfolding. In a way Fagerlund sums up the modern sound-coloristic orchestral legacy while moving forward simultaneously into his own personal sphere of sonics.

The music is well-written, well-performed and complexly vibrant. Fagerlund bears close listening, reveals himself in real and repeated listening time rather than awes you with visceral fireworks. That he will please the careful auditor is doubtless the case (at least with me), but he presents music on his own terms, not pandering for easy recognition and applause but single-mindedly seeing a path into the future we may follow at will with considerable reward.

A figure to be heard, Fagerlund most certainly is, and a composer doing excellent work which I can only hope will continue to grow and excel in the coming years.

Very recommended.

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