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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jan Sandström

Last evening while watching "Classic Arts Showcase" on cable access TV, I found something rather surprising. It was an excerpt from a ballet by Swedish composer Jan Sandström (b. 1954) titled EN HERRGÅRDSSÄGEN (A Manor Saga) from 1987.

The dancers, choreography, direction, lighting, and set design were great, but the music really captivated me. The composer created a wonderful soundscape of beautiful orchestral sounds. It was quazi-tonal, but sustained and sospeso. The colors were vivid. I was very impressed.

I've never heard of Sandström. He seems to be a prominent figure in Sweden and as indicated on his website has composed a great deal of music. One of his popular works, Trombone Concerto #1 (the Motorbike Concerto), has been performed over 600 times. The composer studied with Brian Ferneyhough, but you wouldn't know it from the ballet excerpt that I heard. Although I did sense a composer who's music is informed by the techniques and aesthetics of late 20th century practice - including serialism.

I hope to hear more of Jan Sandström someday.