Music Web International: outstanding.
Claude Loyola Allgén is one of the most enigmatic characters in the history of Swedish music. An intermittent member of the so-called Monday Group in the 1940s (alongside for instance Ingvar Lidholm), he received instruction from Karl-Birger Blomdahl and Hilding Rosenberg. Both as a composer and as a person, Allgén was highly original, however, and came to lead a very isolated existence.
Born Klas-Thure Allgén, he changed his name upon his conversion to Catholicism in 1950. Even though his plans to become a priest came to nothing, his spiritual quest would continue to inform his music to a great degree. Living the life of a recluse he remained outside the circles that would normally have contributed to his music being performed and published, and at his death in a fire, a part of his musical manuscripts were destroyed. The surviving works have a reputation for being unplayable and are often distinguished by their great length and complexity.
In his liner notes, Ulf Wallin describes his reactions towards Allgén’s huge sonata for solo violin, composed in 1989, as well as the challenges of recording it: ‘The sonata unites every conceivable opposite: emotional and highly intellectual, devout and heathen, lyrical and dramatic. It contains all the facets of the soul and for that very reason is brilliantly constructed, a natural and organic structure, an architectural masterpiece. It encompasses the entire development of music since the Renaissance, not only in purely musical terms but also intellectually and spiritually … It is a pilgrimage through and an examination of music in its entirety, one that refuses to bow to conventions or recognize borders.’
The ample (72 pages) booklet also includes an analysis of the work by musicologist Peter Holmberg, who describes Allgén’s style as ‘very expressive and wide-ranging… He exploits the entire chromatic scale without being bound to serial technique.
An important principle is his striving for consistent use of the ‘totalchromatic’ – to fill an interval or step of the scale with the notes in between so that all twelve tones are used. The same preoccupation influences the formal scheme, leading to an almost manic tendency to fill every little corner of the composition with constant motivic writing.’
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