Christian Lindberg’s The Erratic Dreams of Mr Grönstedt is named for a Swedish cognac brand, the imbibing of which apparently triggered surreal dreams, which the composer spun into a concerto for Swedish clarinettist Emil Jonason.
The concerto comprises a series of scenes from the life of a fictional Mr Grönstedt. Jonason’s clarinet emerges from brooding orchestral depths in The Mirror of Saturn. He’s smooth and flexible as he soars above the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, bringing a bouncy anticipation to Mr Grönstedt Dresses for the Spring Ball. He slashes pointed flourishes across the orchestra’s creeping dissonance in Lisa and the Magic Cape and brings a menacing unreality to the hazy Cadenza: The World of Euphoric Dreams. The finale explodes, the orchestra’s pumping forward-momentum giving way to spacious silence in which Jonason winds eerie solos before an energetic climax.
Jonason joins the Vamlingbo Quartet for Osvaldo Golijov’s klezmer-infused The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind. The Prelude is hymn-like – Jonason in the caramel low register of the clarinet – while Part II becomes an uneasy, slippery dance (drawing on the melody The Old Klezmer Band) set against menacing string pulses and glimmering harmonics, while the final movements are reflective. A dream-like performance full of powerful energy and vivid virtuosity.