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CD Feature/ Ulf Wallin: "Claude Loyola Allgen - Violin Sonata"

img  Tobias

If judged by the standards of today’s harsh „economic reality“, Claude Loyola Allgen has failed. A seemingly directionless life, rejected as a teacher and downright ignored as a composer – he must have been a broken man. Shortly before he died, he had to melt snow in his bath tub, because he coulnd’t afford to pay the water bills and one day, a carelessly lit candle burnt down the house until there was nothing left. His ashes carried away by the wind, burried and forgotten, the voice of Allgen has rarely been heard since. Until the day Ulf Wallin stumbled upon the score to his Violin Sonata and immediately became hypnotically attracted to it.

Yet it has been a long and winding road for Wallin to turn his spell into something tangible. Which harks back to the very heart of the music: Even when considering the fact that unusual repertoire has become something of a sales argument, the fact that this CD is now widely available must seem something of a miracle. For all those who considered Bach’s “Ciaconna” a monumental work, Allgen’s Violin Sonata will appear to be a monster. A piece for solo violin, spanning three CDs and a total of two hours and fourty minutes – the first two movements lasting around an hour each! Unplayable? Unlistenable? If ever these words were waiting for the right moment to be employed, it has certainly arrived. It isn’t hard to understand why this man’s contemporaries (and many of the generations that followed them) considered him a freak. Add to that his “career”, which turned him from a promising young swedish composer first into a Catholic and an aspiring priest and then spat him out into the void in 1961, when he returned from his studies empty-handedly, returning to a Sweden which simply had not been waiting for him. If this is the work of a lunatic, however, then his particular illness was filled with breathtaking beauty. While his applications as a music teacher and an orchestral musician were handed back to him with a big “no” stamped on their cover, Allgen withdrew into a place of his own, writing scores of unspeakable intensity. It took almost thirty years of disappointment to finish his Sonata, and the result is downright shocking: A glacial coolness lies over wastelands filled with the burnt remains of notes and otherwordly sounds and somehwhere in between, a ghostly violin turns and twitches in agony, but with a volcanic passion, boiling like red-hot magma about to be released. The monolithic opening sequences rely on strong motives to keep their greyish cloaks together, which come up for air again and again from the deeps of an everlasting ocean. In the finale, the emotions cool down just a little, everything gets just a tad brighter and more confident. After the last tone has been played, there is a silence of about thrirty seconds, until the disc finally ends. It sounds just as wonderful as everything which has preceeded it.

For sure, Wallin’s quest to put this work to tape resembles the quixotic efforts of the composer – its succesful completion never a given fact at any stage of the project. Now it has been released, he is enough of a realist as to know that it will hardly ignite an Allgen-revival or sell millions over the counter. But it is not its success in terms of today’s harsh economic reality, which defines the importance and magic of this album, but the utter dedication of a man without a choice and a music too big to be understood in fifteen minutes.

Homepage: BIS Records
Homepage: Klassik Center Kassel

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