Antwerp Symphony Orchestra & Christian Lindberg – Stenhammar: Symphony No. 2 & Ett drömspel

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When it comes late Romantic tunes, classical shit from the late 18th early 19th century, most motherfuckers don’t dip their toes into the waters of Wilhelm. And I get it. If a dog was walking through the woods of Ravel, Ives, The Rach, Strauss, and Sibelius there’s no way that son of a bitch would adorn the Stenhammar tree with its golden and espousing piss. Our man Stenhammar even felt the same way about himself. Despite having mad fucking piano chops, dude didn’t like that he was self-taught and felt he wasn’t schooled enough in musical theory. On top of this, the giant shadow of Sibelius was always looming over him cause Sibelius and him were besties. They sent letters to each other. Stenhammar dedicated his Fourth String Quartet to Sibelius and Sibelius dedicated his Sixth Symphony to Stenhammar. For a decade before writing Symphony No. 2., Stenhammar got deep into that book learning. As a result, this shit is littered with counterpoint and ends with a big fucking double fugue. A double fugue is like someone trying to tell two stories at once. It’s hard to fucking do. But, if pulled off well, it packs a huge musical punch. Cause of this, Symphony No. 2 is one of Stenhammar’s better-known works. The last track on this album though? Now this shit is my jam. 

Last track is called A Dream Play (Ett drömspel). It was made for a play with the same name. Stenhammar decided to beef up his shit for the bizarre. In his preface he said he wanted the music to be a “disconnected but seemingly logical form of the dream… Anything can happen, everything is possible and, indeed, probable.” He goes on to say shit like “Time and space do not exist” and “illusion spins a web, weaving new patterns; a mixture of memories, experience, fictions, impossibilities and improvisations.” Damn Stenhammar! You’re going to throw us deep into that dream logic shit? This last track gets straight Lynch and Hunter S Thompson in this Lord-of-the-Rings kind of a way. It’s nasty, fun, creepy, and uplifting as fuck all at once. This is solid fucking writing. 

Christian Lindberg leads The Antwerp Symphony Orchestra through these sonic dreams. Lindberg is also a trombone magi. There have been eighty-two pieces written solely for him. Then one day, back in 2000, as he sat upon his trombone throne, he got bored and decided “fuck it” and got into conducting. Hearing him work, you’d think this he was born baton in hand. Motherfucker is a badass with a stick. This album has everything you want the late romantic: it’s richer than Gates, more lavish than Liberace, it’s profound and feely, dramatic as all fuck, and it can be the soundtrack to some major fucking daydreaming. After listening to a Nordic piano god’s symphonies led by a trombone magi conducting a symphony playing the soundtrack for a dream, you might be, expectedly, spacey as all fuck. This shit takes you into worlds within your mind. It breaks you away from the troubles of your day and lets you imagine some baller ass shit. In short, it’s good fucking music. 

 

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