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Classical - Released August 2, 2011 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Anders Hillborg, born in 1954, is among the most important Swedish composers of his generation, and this BIS album of four of his orchestral works allows listeners to sample his poised confidence in handling large structures and his exquisite sense of orchestral color. King Tide is at once the most modest and unassuming and is the most striking work in the collection. There's something primal and organic in the depiction of the small fluctuations that occur within the build-up of a single monumental ocean wave. The dignified, unhurried unfurling of the sounds, not unlike that of John Adams' rarely performed Common Tones in Simple Time, respects the listener's ability to pay attention to and hear the beauty in the small or subtle incremental changes in the music. Eleven Gates, written in 1998, is probably the most ambitious and varied work on the program, but is, in a way, also the most conventional. The nearly 20-minute piece in 11 brief movements is kaleidoscopic in its often whimsical juxtaposition of imaginative contrasting gestures, textures, and colors. It would make a good introduction to new music for listeners who are nervous about approaching new works; each of its movements makes a distinctive, likeable statement, and then yields to its successor before having worn out its welcome. The surreal titles of each movement also give audiences a reference point for framing the expressive intent of the music, but Hillborg's intent is clear enough that the titles aren't really necessary, although they are fun. Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra provides virtuoso performances; even though Hillborg's music is easy on the ears, it makes extreme technical demands on its players and they handle it with assurance and panache. Sakari Oramo, the orchestra's principal conductor, and Alan Gilbert each lead one work, and Esa-Pekka Salonen leads two. The sound of the hybrid SACD is clean, warm, and nicely detailed, with a good sense of presence. © TiVo