Lars Karlsson was born in 1953 on Åland, an archipelago in the Baltic Sea which forms part of Finland although its population is Swedish-speaking. He soon moved to Helsinki, however, in order to study at the Sibelius Academy, where his teachers included Einar Englund and Einojuhani Rautavaara. Since 1976, he has himself been teaching at the Academy. Following his own distinctive route&&& on the Finnish contemporary music scene, Karlsson composes in a neotonal vein and has been called a ‘romantic modernist’ – as well as a ‘modern romanticist’. His work list includes all genres from chamber music and solo works to orchestral works, and he has also composed extensively for voices. Two of his later works are recorded here, in performances conducted by John Storgårds with whom Karlsson has collaborated extensively, both as conductor and violinist. Storgårds and his Lapland Chamber Orchestra have previously recorded four discs with music by Kalevi Aho for BIS – discs which have received critical acclaim and international distinctions such as the prestigious German ECHO Klassik award. Here they are joined by Gabriel Suovanen and Christoffer Sundqvist, the soloists for whom Lars Karlsson composed his Songs to texts by Lagerkvist and Clarinet Concerto. The song cycle charts what the composer calls ‘a life-journey’, setting texts by the Swedish poet and Nobel Prize laureate Pär Lagerkvist. In the Concerto, Karlsson instead revisits his own production, exploring an interest for fourths and fifths which was particularly strong during the early part of his career, but also reusing themes from other works, for instance in the folksong-like second movement.
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