Friday, March 14, 2014

CCC 096 - Bengt-Göran Sköld

Swedish organist and composer Bengt-Göran Sköld is the subject of this week's Consonant Classical Challenge. Sköld's been described as a post-modernist composer, a term that isn't very helpful -- save that it implies he isn't a serial or atonal composer. And that seems to be true.

Sköld's use of tonality seems to vary somewhat depending on the medium. His solo organ works, though tonally grounded, are quite adventurous with thick, complex harmonies and intricate, chromatic melodies and countermelodies. By contrast, his chorale music is fairly straight-forward, using intervals and melodic contours that are easy to sing (and listen to). In between are Sköld's instrumental compositions, which use more advanced chordal constructions than his choral music, but seem more transparent than his solo organ works.

In his La chaconne for organ, one can hear how Sköld fully exploits the potential of his instrument. The pedal provides the harmonic foundation -- which is tonal -- while the upper registers obscure the harmonic structure with thier extreme chromatic motion and minor second relationships.

Mass No. 2 is a composition for female a capella choir. The Benedictus is charming in its direct simplicity. Sköld's melodies are reinforced with transparent, triadic harmonies, that give clarity to the female voices.

In the Concerto for violin and string orchestra, the rich harmonies of the string orchestra are tonal, but these are no simple major chord progressions nor are they clearly modal. Sköld's harmonic progression has its own internal logic, and it effectively keeps the music organized without falling into cliche.

Unfortunately, there seem to be no recordings of Bengt-Göran Sköld's music readily available. However, the composer has his own YouTube channel, where he's posted 33 videos of his music. The channel not only includes many works for solo organ and choral ensembles, but it features a good amount of his orchestral music as well, including the magnificent violin concerto, his horn concerto, and some shorter compositions.

Bengt-Göran Sköld's compositions should appeal to just about any classical music listener -- adventurous or conservative (albeit not every work for every audience). I'd love to hear his symphonies performed in concert -- or even a recording of them for that matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment