HILLBORG Eleven Gates
With each passing year, Anders Hillborg’s international reputation grows apace. Listeners in the UK may recall a series of high-profile premieres at the Proms in recent years: Liquid Marble (11/03), Exquisite Corpse (included here), Peacock Tales and – last summer – Cold Heat, the first Swedish work premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic. Audiences in California will recognise Eleven Gates, premiered in 2006 in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, where Hillborg’s newest orchestral piece, Sirens, was premiered last November. The present collection showcases Hillborg’s typically multifaceted and wickedly good-natured humour, most obviously in Eleven Gates, an integrated yet surreal suite describing an imaginary journey from D major through rooms or seascapes with chattering, floating or whispering mirrors, encountering woodpeckers, toy pianos, a string quartet and elastic seabirds, descending from a ‘Meadow of Sadsongs’ to the sea floor.
Hillborg’s penchant for seemingly whimsical titles, usually chosen after most, if not all, of the composition is complete, is nowhere more appropriate than in Exquisite Corpse (2002), a musical homage to the Surrealists’ famous parlour game and in which Hillborg imagined what kind of work sympathetic friends might construct from his own music by a similar process. King Tide (1999), by contrast, is a reimagining of his celebrated phonetic motet, Muoaeuyaem (1983‑86), the chattering, New Simplicity pulsation of which – framed by calmer, sustained sections – translates splendidly to the orchestra. Dreaming River (1998) is different again, perhaps the most volatile and explosive work here, its starting point the shawm-like sound of the Chinese oboe, the suona (Hillborg deploys two).
The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra is on splendid form throughout, led by conductors who have championed these works at home and abroad. BIS’s SACD sound is typically spectacular, making this release very strongly recommended.