To exist in the world of this collection of compositions is to truly experience the intention and ambition of the artist across a variety of moods and stylistic mores.
The seven pieces that make up the collection All Thoughts Fly can almost be described as movements of a symphony, despite everything being played on a single instrument, the Pipe Organ. The artist, a noted popular musician in her homeland of Sweden, has here eschewed musical populism to drive to the very core of her creative being; this, you sense, is the essence of the composer, performer and auteur combined in one; First ‘movement’ Theatre of Nature is a wondrous combination of semi-fugued themes and ethereal diversions from the repeated themes. An overture of sorts, welcoming the listener to the composers otherworld of sound.
The second and third ‘movements’ essentially form a single piece, composed around the Sacro Bosco of semi-remembered legend; Here the Duke of Orsini is eulogised in sombre tones; the organ creating a funereal drone in the first part (Dolore Di Orsini) before a more expansive celebration of his Sacred Grove develops in the second around a sinister pulse of dark energy. Dolor indeed. Here the ghost of Stravinsky can be heard, combining perhaps in the piece’s second part with fibres of the work of more modern composers such as Philip Glass. It is a melding of influence that possess a latent power to move the listener when one is perhaps least expecting such a thing to happen. This surprise enhances the impact severalfold in the opinion of this reviewer.
Persefone, the fourth ‘movement’ invites the listener to reach further into the past to find reference; The piece’s ecclesiastical tone, a simple figure repeated unembellished through the first half of the piece, echoes Bach (with perhaps a nod, intended or otherwise, to the air in the second movement of that composer’s famous Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068), which builds slowly before being allowed to fade on a sustained single chord to nothingness. Again an effective device is used to attract the listener and hold the attention through periods where apparently little happens musically.
The fifth ‘movement’, Entering, acts merely as a segue between Persefone and the collection’s centrepiece, All Thoughts Fly. The ambience of the great Gothic cathedrals is invoked as an introduction to the main piece, where again fugues are used to enforce and reinforce the themes which the composer desires to portray. The use of counterpoint and repetition here is gloriously redolent of Steve Reich, wherein listeners may find remembrance of that composer’s Different Trains through it’s use of propulsive, rhythmic motifs repeated over and over again. The result can be described as nothing more or less than at once hypnotic and exhilarating; the listener journeys with the composition through a series of ever-evolving, always intensifying moods, before the final crescendo which provides tumescent release. It is a tour de force of modern classical composition.
The final ‘movement’, Outside The Gate, returns to the sombre mood established in the middle of the ‘symphony’; sparse chords open before a yearning, dolorous melodic motif is added. Again, intensity is built around slowly repeating fugues, before a diminuendo leaves the merest memory of melody lingering in the consciousness of the listener.
As a piece of modern classical composition, this collection of works is a triumph, a masterpiece that absolutely demands to be heard. As such, the reviewer does not hesitate in recommending it unreservedly.
All Thoughts Fly releases on September 25th.