in Reviews

Fagerlund’s modern impressionism works well in chamber music too

by Kare Eskola

"Sebastian Fagerlund's chamber works are attractive, shot through with primeval energy yet shaped with a dextrous flexibility."

For a composer, success often translates into the focus of commissions, performances and attention shifting to extensive orchestral works. This was certainly the case for Sebastian Fagerlund (b. 1972), but fortunately for audiences he has not lost touch with chamber music. His chamber works on a new disc released on the BIS label are attractive, shot through with primeval energy yet shaped with a dextrous flexibility.

The scores of the six works featured on this disc are peppered with instructions such as tranquillo, meccanico, misterioso and preciso. The listener is thus treated to easily identifiable and sonorous musical contexts, but Fagerlund’s mastery is evident in the natural intensity with which these contexts develop: rhythms and harmonic progressions draw the ear deep into the music, which manages to sound modern yet feel timeless.

Fagerlund has a knack for impressionist tonal colour as a means of building up energy, as we know from his orchestral works. The effect is impressive even in its early state in his String Quartet no. 1 (2006), but later the merger between tonal colour and other musical elements, combined with occasional stylistic quotes, is even more organic. Transient Light for horn, violin, piano and cello (2013) and the title piece of the disc, Oceano for violin, viola and cello (2010), are quite as broadly resonant, uncontrived and colourful as Fagerlund’s orchestral music.

The musicians appearing on the disc are not only some of the best chamber music performers in Finland but also have a long history of collaborating with Fagerlund. No wonder, then, that they keep the listener riveted in following the progression of Fagerlund’s musical processes through the entire length of the disc.

Oceano – Chamber music by Sebastian Fagerlund

Hervé Joulain, horn; Paavali Jumppanen, piano; Christoffer Sundqvist, clarinet; Meta4 string quartet. 


Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi