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Kristina Varlid : 5 Stages of Grief: CD

RAK: Tombeau for Sabrina: KOSHKIN: Sonata No2: TAKEMITSU: In The Woods: VASKS: Sonata of Loneliness: SCHMITZ: Last Encores.

Kristina Varlid

Simax Classics: PSC1393

This album was put together by Kristina Varlid, following the tragic news of the sudden unexpected passing of her best friend and duet partner Sabrina Vlaskalic in a traffic accident at the age of only 29.The five pieces here each reflect the five stages of grief, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance.

The opening track, by Stepan Rak, surely one of guitar’s most respected players/composers was written after he heard the news, and is slow and desperately sad throughout it’s almost three minutes of length.

The Sonata No2 by Nikita Koshkin, is in three movements and at 25 minutes in length goes through many emotions along its journey. The music is modern but not too much, but as you might expect has many moments of argumentative music, along with many grief stricken moments, whilst the final movement an Allegro is angry and is in a constant threatening state .

Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu wrote his final work In The Woods whilst he was in hospital and the music is thoughtfully sad, and full of slow emotive music as it progresses through its three movements Wainscot Pond, Rosedale and Muir Woods, and has a sound very different from many other composers’ works, quite gripping in its sad emotive sounds.

Latvian composer Peteris Vasks’ Sonata of Loneliness is in three movements, and begins with some unusual percussive and glissando sounds that manage to create instantly the right mood in the opening Pensieroso.The second movement Risoluto is fast relentless and angry, and only slows down momentarily in the middle, until the anger takes over again, and the piece returns to its opening style. The longest movement is the last however, Con Dolore, and it is very successful at creating the grief stricken sound world it takes on. The music throughout the piece is modern but not too much so, and an emotional 15 minutes of music.

The final work is Georg Schmitz’s Last Encores, four quite different pieces that could stand alone, but together make a very definite impression, and are Andante, Furioso, Bewegt, and Gesungen. All make their point very succinctly but effectively and make for a beautiful close to this album. The playing here from Varlid is exceptional, technically perfect, very clearly recorded, and although the music is never happy in this album, its five pieces are wonderful in their emotional sound world, and this album is a fitting tribute to all concerned, and should be in everyone’s collections.

Chris Dumigan

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