About this Recording
8.557855 - LINDE: Violin Concerto / Cello Concerto
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Bo Linde (1933-1970)
Violin Concerto, Op. 18 • Cello Concerto, Op. 29

“I write in very beautiful triads,” Bo Linde explained during an interview for the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation after he had been accepted as a student in Lars Erik Larsson’s composition class at the Academy of Music in Stockholm at the tender age of fifteen. He was not only a precocious talent but, from an early age, he had a clear idea of what he wanted to do in music. For example he submitted his first piano concerto as part of his application for admission to the Academy. Although he was a technically very gifted pianist he rapidly abandoned the idea of a solo career. That would merely interfere with his work as a composer. Most of all he wanted to write organ music and music for the theatre. In point of fact he was only to write a couple of small-scale organ pieces and a children’s opera in these genres. Instead, he devoted his powers to writing orchestral music, chamber music and, not least, songs. Just like Benjamin Britten, whom he greatly admired, Bo Linde had an unfailing sense of how poetry and music could be united. The piano accompaniments in the songs are often very lively and exciting.

The earliest of Bo Linde’s compositions to have survived were written when he was between ten and twelve years old and in his early teens, for example, he composed sonatinas for piano and oboe, piano and trumpet and piano and cello. He was always a keen reader of poetry and even before he entered the Academy he composed his first song settings. Among his earliest collections of songs there is one with Chinese poetry and one that he called a “Swedish Anthology”. Over the years he produced a considerable number of collections, two of which have become firm favourites with Swedish singers: Fyra allvarliga sånger (Four Serious Songs) and Tio naiva sånger (Ten Naïve Songs). Bo Linde’s first major orchestral work was his Sinfonia fantasia, Op. 1, which dates from the autumn of 1951, before the composer was nineteen.

The Violin Concerto, Op. 18, is dedicated to the violinist Josef Grünfarb. Forty years after its première Josef Grünfarb explained that this violin concerto differed from other concertos which various composers had offered him in that “Everything was complete. It was just a matter of playing the elegant passagework and cantilenas. The concerto is remarkably violinistic. His feeling for the instrument was unique for someone who did not play it himself.” Grünfarb’s pupil Karl-Ove Mannberg has claimed that Linde’s violin concerto ought to be part of the standard repertoire alongside those of the great masters.

The violin concerto is the most regularly performed of Bo Linde’s orchestral works and beyond the borders of Sweden it has been heard in the United States, Germany and Norway. The soft opening on the oboe in the introductory Andante grows out of the silence to which the concerto returns via the lyrical mood of the introduction, which recurs in the slow, concluding Lento. After the soloist’s cadenza, a lively scherzo takes over with a melodious second subject. The conclusion is reminiscent of that of Bo Linde’s only published string quartet (Op. 9) in which the shimmeringly lovely lyricism also disappears into the emptiness of space where music can rise again out of the silence. The violin concerto was first performed by Josef Grünfarb in Umeå early in 1958.

Bo Linde was even fonder of his Cello Concerto, Op. 29, than of the violin concerto, counting it among his very finest works. In a newspaper interview prior to the première he explained that “I am hopelessly in love with this noble and beautiful instrument”. He wrote the concerto for Guido Vecchi who was the principal cellist of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and who also gave the first performance of the work in Sandviken in 1965. The concerto has a rather special history in that it was largely written over the telephone between Gävle and Gothenburg. For hour after hour during the autumn of 1964 composer and prospective soloist discussed details in the composition, especially details in the solo part. At times the telephone bills in the young Linde household became almost prohibitively large.

The soloist opens the concerto with a musical subject that contains most of the melodic and sonic material in the work as well as a major-minor third tension in a sonata form that, in the second movement, transforms itself into lively, almost stormy rhythms before the beautiful concluding movement with the tempo indication Lento, ma tempo flessibile gives us an opportunity to hear many of the cello’s beautiful aspects. Maria Kliegel, the soloist in this recording, explains from the cellist’s point of view that the concerto is conceived on a grand scale, requiring instrumental virtuosity to meet the technical demands but that it is exciting enough to represent an alternative to standard repertoire such as the concertos of Elgar and Dvofiák. The romantic warmth of Bo Linde’s musical imagination splendidly captures the essence of the cello’s character and if the cello concerto has yet to be granted the same interest as the violin concerto, this is probably the result of continued ignorance of Bo Linde’s music rather than of the actual quality of this composition. “It may seem somewhat banal”, Bo Linde wrote of the last movement in the programme note to the première, “but I have consciously tried to bring out the fundamental quality of the cello (its warm melodiousness)”.

Among the works that Bo Linde wrote after completing the cello concerto were his Serenata nostalgica, Op. 30, the diverting and humorous Suite boulogne, Op. 32, and Pensieri sopra un cantico vecchio, Op. 35, a set of highly romantic orchestral variations on the famous hymn Es ist ein Ros entsprungen. At this period he also wrote some ten collections of songs based on Swedish poets including Elsa Beskow, Erik Axel Karlfeldt, Edith Södergran, Gunnar Björling and Verner von Heidenstam. Some of his finest chamber music also belongs to his final active years, for example his String Trio in B major, Op. 37, and his Sonata a tre, Op. 38.

Bo Linde’s final orchestral work, Pezzo concertante, Op. 41, is also a solo concerto, this time for bass clarinet and orchestra. It was dedicated to the clarinettist Lennart Stove who gave the first performance a couple of weeks before the composer’s death at home in Gävle where he had been born only 37 years previously.

Besides his work as a composer, Bo Linde taught piano and composition in Stockholm as well as in Gävle. He also wrote more than three thousand articles and reviews on musical topics in the local Gefle Dagblad.

Ulf Jönsson


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