ON Saturday night, I caught an all-Scandinavian Los Angeles Philharmonic concert that included a West Coast premiere of an Anders Hillborg piece and violinist Hilary Hahn playing a Nielsen concerto. The whole concert was strong — I was amazed at the sounds Hahn was able to coax out of her violin — but Hillborg’s King Tide was so moving and powerful it made everything else seem pedestrian.
Hillborg is a Swede (born 1954) of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s generation. His piece, King Tide, had elements of minimalism,with its emphasis on rhythmic repetition, as well as something else. The woodwinds– rarely my favorite part of an orchestra — were especially transporting.
LA Times critic Mark Swed described it this way:
Revised in 2010, “King Tide” begins with a thick coastal fog of strings divided into 30 parts. The mist partly lifts as the full orchestra pulses. Slower and faster pulses coincide. There are big swells. Ligeti meets Steve Reich on foreign shores.
Here is Swed’s review of the concert.
The Phil has made a commitment to Scandinavian composers, new and old, at least since Salonen came in. (Keep your eyes out for a piece by the young Icelander Daniel Bjarnason, whose new, LA Phil-commissioned piece will be performed soon at Lincoln Center.)
Let’s hope they keep it up.