REVIEWS

A FREAK IN BURBANK
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Dausgaard – conductor
29/30 Oct 2016, Alex Theatre/Royce Hall, Los Angeles, USA

”Dausgaard made an impressive debut with the ensemble in a program that added two engaging pieces to LACO’s considerable repertoire: Swedish composer Albert Schnelzer’s “A Freak in Burbank,” which had its West Coast premiere, and Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ “Six Humoresques for Violin and Orchestra” […] Dausgaard proved an involved and animated presence in Schnelzer’s 10-minute “A Freak in Burbank,” a kind of spooky musical portrait of restless adolescence inspired by the films of Tim Burton, who was born in Burbank. […] A suitably unsettling score for Halloween eve, “Freak” brimmed with sinister, hyperactive energy on Sunday. Dausgaard kept a firm but flexible grip on the work’s abrupt figures for strings and woodwinds, allowing the orchestra to seamlessly navigate its arresting, disruptive metrical shifts.”
LA Times

TALES FROM SUBURBIA
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Harding – conductor
25/28 March 2015, Uppsala & Stockholm, Sweden

A new repertoire piece
”New contemporary pieces are seldom played again, but Albert Schnelzer’s ”Tales from Suburbia” has every chance of becoming a new repertoire piece. The 15-minute piece, who got a delightful Stockholm premiere this Saturday, was commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra […] This is cinematic, slowly awakening music which starts dreamlike and allows the oboe to give an oriental touch to the woodwinds. […] The performance was an action-packed show number, in which Harding got the music to swing on every pumping beat of the dance rhythm, but also captured every budding solo.”
Dagens Nyheter

Brilliant illustration in sound
”The contrasts in a suburb between the rural idyll and the modern city teeming with life were here given an extraordinarily brilliant illustration in sound. With a formidable, skillfully handled palette of sonorities, calm tranquillity and unruly stress were coloured in incessant contrasts.”
Upsala Nya Tidning

TALES FROM SUBURBIA
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Kirill Karabits – conductor
13 March 2015, Barbican, London

”Schnelzer’s approach to orchestration is exciting and at times unexpected […] wind, brass and strings nailing their colours to the mast clearly throughout the work’s various dramatic turns […] But the lyrical elements are strong too, carrying a potent sense of searching, free from metrical constraints, and also passion, culminating in some exhilarating moments of full-on freakout.”
5:4

”This concert had begun with a world premiere from the Swedish composer Albert Schnelzer, whose story-telling could not have been more different. Tales from Suburbia is 15 engaging minutes of ebbing and flowing motor rhythms, colourfully orchestrated, rather like music to accompany a video of a rapidly moving cityscape.”
The Times

”This was an interesting counterpoint to the first piece of the evening, the 15-minute Tales from Suburbia by Swedish composer Albert Schnelzer (born 1972) – depicting a walk past the everyday life of the hinterland between city and countryside found worldwide. After a restrained, almost uncertain opening emerging from percussion a rhythmic motif is set up in the lower strings, sometimes agitated, sometimes lilting. Abrupt changes of pace, dynamic and mood indicated perhaps meeting a crossroads and choosing a new path to take. Flashes of menace indicated that life behind familiar doors may not be always what is seen or perceived. Indeed, a short mournful theme sounded on the oboe and was subsequently taken up by flutes in canon, and later by the violins and celesta to strong effect. Schnelzer’s suburbia is also a place of secrets and neuroses.”
ClassicalSource.com

”The concert began with a world premiere from 42-year-old Swedish composer Albert Schnelzer, entitled Tales from Suburbia. Its fifteen minutes revealed a score punctuated with telling effects, no more so than the pounding dance-like percussive rhythms of the central section that reminded this particular listener of Ades’ Asyla.”
musicomh.com

BRAIN DAMAGE
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Alain Altinoglu – conductor
10 Sept 2014, Gothenburg Concert Hall

”The music hurls the listener into eruptive crescendos towards a limit – until it yields to a painful, achingly beautiful song by the strings… a motif in the strings breaks free and prepares the way for a wondrous radiance from an alien world that at the same time sounds archaic and like science fiction… In the third movement ́s ”Dam breaks open” there is an opening for a new and airier motoric drive and for a singularly beautiful theme in the brass that in the end makes the work’s central and redeeming message glow: not to be afraid of what is hidden on the dark side of the moon.”
Dagens Nyheter

ANIMAL SONGS
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Susanna Andersson – soprano, Clemens Schuldt – conductor
12 Jan 2014, Helsingborg Concert Hall

Convincing Animal Songs
”The feeling in the texts [by Margaret Atwood] was convincingly expressed by the composer, fateful and questioning. Susanna Andersson interpreted the songs with genuine commitment.”
Helsingborgs Dagblad

INTO THIN AIR & WOLFGANG IS DANCING
Staffan Mårtensson – clarinet, Love Derwinger – piano, Erik Wahlgren – cello, Tobias Ringborg – violin
14 Aug 2013, Albert Schnelzer Composer in Residence at Linköping Chamber Music Festival

Amazing Schnelzer
”This [Into Thin Air] is amazing music, with a wealth of contrasts and breakneck turns. Mårtensson’s playing made the clarinet stand out as the optimal instrument for this type of expressivity. In Wolfgang is Dancing, Schnelzer poked fun at Mozart in imaginative and humorous music with a driving rhythm. The audience responded with a well-deserved ovation.”
Corren

CRAZY DIAMOND – CELLO CONCERTO
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Claes Gunnarsson – cello, Nikolaj Znaider – conductor
1 December 2011, Gothenburg Concert Hall

”I cannot recall any Swedish orchestral music that has given me such a strong feeling of floating… After a virtuoso fugal section inspired by the pleading Pink Floyd quote “rearrange me ‘till I’m sane”, it is time for the farewell… An achingly beautiful melancholy song for the cello that, after it finally ceases to play, still seems to continue sounding.”
Dagens Nyheter

A FREAK IN BURBANK
Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Dausgaard – conductor
23 Aug 2010, BBC PROMS 2010, Royal Albert Hall

”The Swedish composer Albert Schnelzer is little known in the UK, but A Freak in Burbank may change that. Schnelzer says the idea was to see if the spirit of Haydn might survive in an American suburb and, though it is not easy to hear that in the finished piece, the restlessly busy, witty, lightly-scored music lives in an imaginative world of its own.”
Financial Times

”The most conventional and technically secure orchestration of the evening was heard in Schnelzer’s 2007 conceit of skeletal trills, playful pauses and cartoonishly grimacing brass. […] This is a smart, likeable showpiece from a talented composer.”
The Independent

”… the UK premiere of Albert Schnelzer’s A Freak in Burbank, a witty, malign little scherzo inspired by the childhood and films of Tim Burton; the piece reveals an exceptional flair for orchestral virtuosity on the part of its composer. [..] … an important new composer, no question.”
The Guardian

”Albert Schnelzer’s A Freak in Burbank was hugely enjoyable. The composer says the forces and idea were modelled on Haydn, particularly his sense of playfulness and use of orchestra colours. The life of cinema director Tim Burton was another inspiration for the piece, and it was the almost film-score and programmatic quality of some of the music that was so likeable. There were interesting echoes of John Adams, too. The opening comprises an orchestral flourish which quickly loses momentum and dissipates, only to re-emerge. Thereafter there is very much a Haydnesque building of tension, music with a nervy and slightly unsettling quality despite the almost jazzily sprung rhythms. Schnelzer’s compositional voice seems both individual and assured.”
Classicalsource.com

”In more recent years some composers have ventured down from their ivory towers and dipped a toe into popular culture. Young Swedish composer Albert Schnelzer is one of them. His A Freak in Burbank was the new piece in a programme of romantic visions performed by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. It was inspired by the macabre film visions of Tim Burton – a resident of Burbank, California – but the music’s shape actually reminded me of that old chestnut A Sorceror’s Apprentice. It had a similar contrast between slow, spectral passages and a hobgoblin dance which gathers more and more energy. Like one of Burton’s films, the whole thing passed smoothly like a brightly coloured and skilfully made phantasmagoria.”
The Telegraph

”That’s something it shared with Albert Schnelzer’s A Freak in Burbank, inspired by the childhood of Tim Burton and making its UK premiere. Telescoping as many ideas into its nine minutes as John Adams would stretch out for a full symphony, it combines ear-friendliness with the adrenalin-busting energy of a fairground ride.
Intermezzo


A FREAK IN BURBANK, Stockholm Chamber Orchestra SNYKO, Rondin

“Schnelzer’s score begins and ends as an exclamation mark whirling from the little woodwind section… It is stylish, attractive and cinematic.”
Svenska Dagbladet

A FREAK IN BURBANK, Swedish Chamber Orchestra / Björkman
“Schnelzer’s music is characterized by energy, but below the surface, the music is lyrical and fragile.”
Nerikes Allahanda

A FREAK IN BURBANK, DalaSinfoniettan / Engeset
“The opening work A freak in Burbank is simply wonderful!”
Falukuriren


STRING QUARTET NO. 2 – EMPEROR AKBAR, The Brodsky Quartet
”England’s Brodsky Quartet were the Festival’s resident ensemble this year, […] — and a new work destined for London: the String Quartet No 2 by the young Swedish composer Albert Schnelzer. He celebrates the spectres of Shostakovich, Berg, Ravel — yet speaks with a confident and passionately lyrical voice all his own. ”
Hilary Finch, The Times


OBOE CONCERTO – THE ENCHANTER
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Francois Leleux – oboe, John Storgårds – conductor
19/20 Nov 2010 – City Halls Glasgow, Queen’s Hall Edinburgh

”Albert Schnelzer’s new oboe concerto, The Enchanter, receiving its UK premiere in the super-fluid, breath-defying lungs of oboist Francois Leleux, for whom it was written, lived up to its name. What a ravishing piece, both in its intoxicating and bewitching slow music, which was at once tranquil and mesmerising, with those endless notes during which Leleux appeared not to require oxygen, and in its contrasting, impish, staccato, chattering music that sounded like an excited chorus of disciples drawn to the searing, soaring song of the enchanter.”
Herald Scotland

”And Leleux’s playing certainly enchants. In three movements, performed without a break, The Enchanter begins ponderously, with drum rolls, and has an almost ominous feel with the oboe continuing in its own unique way. The complex cadenza in the first movement displays Leleux’s extraordinary versatility, both in tone and technique. […] The third movement, featuring strong percussion, has a mischievous quality with obvious Eastern influences, inspired by Rushdie’s novel, The Enchantress of Florence. Leleux gave such a flawless, wonderful performance the composer was moved to rush up embrace him while the audience were still enthusiastically clapping.”
Edinburghguide.com

”The UK premiere of Albert Schnelzer’s Oboe Concerto, ‘The Enchanter,’ was successfully brought off. Soloist François Leleux took the oboe to new heights of expression. The concerto began with a menacingly mysterious introduction as Leleux’s playing showcased his ability as an ‘Enchanter’ of the oboe.[…] The Second Scene followed with a tranquillity that retained the misterioso from the First Scene. The energy of the finale’s Allegro took the concerto to a series of new climaxes, each followed by sprightly solos from Leleux that created waves of descending and ascending chromatic lines. Leleux is a true showman. […] His brilliance was highlighted in the first movement’s cadenza and he exhibited great passion throughout the rest of the concerto.”
Musicalcriticism.com

”However, the real draw here was the premiere of Albert Schnelzer’s new oboe concerto. […] His concerto held me gripped, however. The “Enchanter” of the title is Leleux himself, and it’s a fitting tribute to his spellbinding playing. He turned the oboe into a multi-dimensional character, singing, dancing and leaping through his music. However the Enchanter is also inspired by a character in Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence and the atmosphere of magic is apparent right from the off in the quivering, shimmering orchestral textures from which the oboe part grows gently. Schnelzer uses the orchestra brilliantly, treating them like a hugely varied palette from which to draw a rainbow of colours. Filigree flutes, for example, formed the beautiful background to a long, spun-out theme from the soloist in the first movement, and the use of percussion was particularly striking, gong and vibraphone creating a hypnotic effect. While cast in three movements the work seems to work more through contrasting sections: after the central Andante comes the finale which cranks up the energy levels considerably and leads into a cadenza of incredible virtuosity, played with jaw-dropping dexterity by the Enchanter himself. After this came a return to the elegiac mood of the opening and the end of a most satisfying work by a composer whose name I shall look out for in the future.”
Musicweb-international.com

”The inner energy of Albert Schnelzer’s oboe concerto The Enchanter – partly inspired by Salman Rushdie’s novel The Enchantress of Florence and here receiving its UK premiere – is a lot subtler. Oboist Francois Leleux revelled in the exotic warmth of the opening.”
The Scotsman