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Staffan Biörklund-Jullander: Improvisations, Concert Etudes & Meditations

CDA1824
£19.99

Details

All music (except Bellman) on this double CD is either improvised or composed by me. Part in a freer form, others with a more solid structure. As a bonus, there is an arrangement of the first movement from Mozart's Symphony No. 40, which I did for choir and piano.

My relationship to the art of improvisation has, over the years as a musician, followed me like a shadow. It has always been there, I used to say: I play from scores just for living, but as an improviser I work as an artist. I also have divided my musical life in two parts: as a soloist, (where I improvise a lot) and as an accompanist, when it is very practical to use scores, of course. But as mentioned, my real “I” does not belong to the world of written music, unless I compose music myself. Then this will have another importance for me. My entire musical history is about the polarization of improvisation versus scored music. I cannot live without the notes, but yet feel that improvisations are suppressed by scored music. It is a very time consuming activity to practice new repertoire, and many times I feel like a copier and not easy to get the motivation. [Staffan Biörklund-Jullander]

Staffan Biörklund-Jullander: Improvisations, Concert Etudes & Meditations

Reviews

Staffan Biörklund-Jullander was born in Stockholm, where after his compulsory music classes, he entered the Royal College of Music at the age of 16, completing his studies there seven years later. There then came a period of teaching piano, performing, both as soloist and accompanist, and church musician, he is also an organist. During this period, he also composed and undertook further studies as mentioned above, becoming the music director of the Gustaf Adolf’s Church in Borås, where he now lives. He writes of the music presented in this set that “All music (except Bellman) on this double CD is either improvised or composed by me. Part in a freer form, others with a more solid structure. As a bonus, there is an arrangement of the first movement from Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, which I did for choir and piano. My relationship to the art of improvisation has, over the years as a musician, followed me like a shadow.”

It is difficult, especially on the first CD, to uncover the composer himself, even in the four short Concert Etudes that open the set, you get a sense that here is a composer writing personal reflections of other composers, Rachmaninov comes to mind. Then come the five Improvisations on Härlig är Jorden, these are clever and attractive pieces, sometimes with a sense of humour. I particularly enjoyed the fourth of these pieces, that in the style of Debussy, you get a real sense of understanding of understanding the French masters art. The Swedish poet and troubadour Carl Michael Bellman features on this disc purely to introduce Biörklund-Jullander’s own improvisations, this time in the style of Mozart, of Ja, må han leva, a well-known tune in Sweden.

The second CD contains Biörklund-Jullander’s set of six Meditation’s, a series of slow, contemplative and quiet pieces, each of which is around ten minutes long, and perhaps here we get more to the heart of the composer. Biörklund-Jullander states that he decided on a particular mood and then writing music to suit. There is a French influence, especially in the first Meditation, as the music puts me in mind of La Belle Époch, however, the composer’s personality does come to the fore in the music of this second disc more than it did on the first. The composer has achieved what he set out to do, with the disc presenting an hour of quiet contemplative music.

The set is interesting, especially disc one when illustrated by the parts of the thesis that relate to the music. The sound and performance are both good except during the live performances as already highlighted. Musicweb-International