Sunday, 12 April 2020

MUSIC REVIEW: Adolf Wiklund: Piano Concerto no:1

One of the advantages that our current lockdown situation is affording me, is that I am having more time to discover and listen to more hitherto unknown-to-me classical music. And every so often I stumble across a gem - as indeed I did on this occasion when I listened to a YouTube upload of Adolf Wiklund's first piano concerto in E minor (opus10), in this recording played by the Gothenberg Symphony Orchestra under Jorma Pinuka, with Ingemar Edgren playing the piano.

I had never heard of Adolf Wiklund before, but Wikipedia tells me that he was a Swedish composer and conductor living between 1879 and 1950, and this piano concerto was composed in 1907. It is a wonderfully dramatic and lyric piece of Late Romantic writing, which seems to take inspiration from Brahms and Sibelius amongst others. It is such a shame that composers such as Wiklund are more or less unknown outside of their native lands, and that only a select few composers are rotated sans cesse in our concert halls. Let's substitute a few Tchaikovskys, Beethovens, Mozarts etc for a concert or two of pieces of equal stature, equal ganduer, equal brilliance, but witten by unknowns!

The concerto is in three movements, as the classical form dictates, starting fast, a slower and more reflective second movement, returning in the third movement to a jolly allegro. It has a wonderful tuneful start with the solo piano melody, and grows into a lush, textured, characterful and impressionistic work of beauty. There is a definite narrational quality to the work in its structure and musical language, and it also I believe utilises a few folk dance tunes from Sweden too to make it very much a piece of music from, about and by Sweden.

The second movement is slower, with dark and brooding chords which give way to hope and light, whilst the third movement is an atmospheric and enchanting dance which builds to a hugley Late Romantic and almost cinematic climax.

Ingemar Edgren plays the solo piano with skill, dexterity and love, whilst The Gothenberg Symphony Orchestra give life to this music, with superb dynamic control. I now must find more works by Wiklund, and listen to more pieces played by Edgren. Absolutely wonderful.

Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 12/4/20

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