Switched On – Henrik Lindstrand: Klangland (One Little Independent)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Having completed a solo piano trilogy, Henrik Lindstrand felt the need to expand his musical horizons. He chose a 16-piece string ensemble, who recorded the material for Klangland in Berlin under the direction of conductor Robert Ames and engineer Francesco Donadello.

Lindstrand’s aim in this music is to work with compressed musical ideas but communicate them in a powerful emotional manner. The title of the album, Klangland (translating as Soundland) suggests this will be done in a series of sonic portraits.

What’s the music like?

Both simple and effective. The ‘simple’ observation is not meant as a sleight, rather an observation that Lindstrand is able to work minimal material into something deeply meaningful. You only have to listen to the first piece, Jord, to see the immediate impact this music can make. The string sound is malleable, the strings often playing without vibrato to secure a sound of glassy clarity. This particular track takes in an airy panorama, with silvery violas, slightly gritty cellos and serene violins – and the timely addition of a piano at the end.

Throughout, Lindstrand’s use of strings is a cut above the ‘standard’ usage, using them economically and effectively. Post finds them almost stock still, using harmonics with no vibrato, before warmer thoughts emerge lower in the range, a solo viola added to the mix. The phrasing in pieces such as Tumlare takes the music deeper, with swooping figures towards the end imitating birds on the wing, having helped contribute to a spacious backdrop with rippling piano.

The piano prompts the internal musings of Gammafly and Tuvstarr, the textures crisp and cold, and with the free thoughts of the cello added to the latter. Cellos are key to the success of Millimeter, where the composer explores a more urgent series of melodic lines, spreading out to the wider extremes of the instruments.

Lindstrand’s cinematic abilities are frequently seen, in the opening out of Leva’s melody, or the instrumental doubling and subtle brush work on the drums that help paint such a vivid picture for CPH-ARN. Klangland itself is the crowning glory, rich in colour and enjoying a modal melody from the piano.

Does it all work?

It does. Lindstrand’s concentrated approach means the subtle intensity of his writing never lets up, and closer listening reveals the attention to detail in the orchestration. You can even here the pedals of the piano in closing track Hvid, for instance!

Is it recommended?

It is. In a crowded field, Henrik Lindstrand has a distinctive voice and music of subtle yet deep meaning.

Listen & Buy

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