Titeln antyder kontraster i musiken, där två lugnare partier omger en agiterad del. Mot en långsam, uppbruten cantus firmus i blecket står ett sensuellt, färgrikt klangmyller. Associationer till den polyfona epoken dyker även upp med den gamla dissonansformeln. Men också barnramsor skymtar – kanske Hillborg, likt Friedrich Schiller, har en längtan till den evigt svunna barndomen.
Blockvisa kontraster noterades i form av ett lustigt slagverksparti som följdes av skira höga stråkar med flöjter, varpå musiken tonades ned med en tät sats ur vilken två individer, en cello och en violin, bröt sig ur kollektivet. Det associationsrika ”Cold heat” flöt trovärdigt fram under Nikolaj Znaider.
Lars Hedblad, svd.se, 12 April 2013
För den som har följt Hillborg är det intressant att se hur flera bekanta element återfinns i Cold Heat: de långa ackorden som långsamt växer och tonar ut och glider in i varandra som ebb och flod, de virtuosa texturerna i träblåsarna som kanske representerar det kalla och de låga tonerna i kontrabasen som kanske representerar det varma, det bombastiska trummandet och ackorduppbyggnaden med långa statiska toner i botten som ackorden formas på.
I Cold Heat finns dessutom ett nästan metalliskt skimmer som skär igenom.
Något av det bästa med stycket är längden. På tretton minuter skapar Hillborg en väluppbyggd helhet, som inte är överdrivet lång, men full av saftig must. Det är genomträngande musik som klingar utmärkt i Musikhusets rymd och atmosfär.
Wilhelm Kvist, Hbl.fi
Monday evening's Prom brought one of the pieces i've most been looking forward to hear in this year's season, the first London performance of Cold Heat by Swedish composer Anders Hillborg. Few composers in recent times have revivified the Straussian idea of the symphonic poem more effectively than Hillborg, although his approach avoids overtly programmatic ideas. Hillborg prefers more abstract but no less evocative subject matter, & this train of compositional thought is continued through the fifteen minutes of Cold Heat, which was performed by one of the groups who commissioned the work, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, directed by David Zinman.
In truth, it's much more than a mere preference; Hillborg positively deliciates within the hypothetical sonic environments he creates, conjuring this one into existence via a series of vigorous woodwind flourishes. Immediately, they're countered by a largely static, drawn-out horn line, which is passed to the strings who succeed in slowing down the winds until they resemble a large collection of bird calls (the programme note cites King Eiders as inspiration). A sudden loud bass pedal from piano & lower strings changes the mood like a jump cut, topped by descending oboes; while the strings predominate, brass surges start to appear, growing in forcefulness & eventually triggering a loud solitary percussion accent. It's archetypal Hillborg territory, broad & apparently slow overall movement, but crammed with a seething mass of activity. & then it bursts: an eruption of forward motion pushed along by the strings, dominated by them at first; after a couple of minutes the brass & winds get involved, & at the entrance of loud wooden percussion, the atmosphere turns almost violently ritualistic. Hillborg revels in the melée for a bit before abruptly cancelling out most of the orchestra, leaving just the woodwind with any real movement, before the deep pedal heard earlier returns, soon followed by the brass surges, the music's surface now glistened by the strings, who slowly move into the foreground. From the middle-distance, vast, imposing chords are carved out by the brass, crowned with a single tubular bell strike (throughout, Hillborg's use of percussion is impressively restrained). Over an extended period, the texture gradually ebbs & fades, exposing a solo cello, whose cantabile melody, dusted with far off, tinkling bells, forms the epilogue of the work, joined by a high violin at its close.
It may seem an inappropriate association, but i always find myself thinking of Takemitsu when listening to Hillborg's music, perhaps due to the innate sense of inevitability with which Hillborg imbues his music. The Tonhalle Orchestra's rendition of the work is superb, teasing out even the tiniest threads in Hillborg's often dense textures.
Simon Cummings, 5-against-4.blogspot.com - Proms 2011: Anders Hillborg - Cold Heat (UK Première)
...Cold Heat, deploys contradictions to make its often powerful effect. At the opening swirling, jangly woodwind oscillations stand against monumental brass chords and long, icy string notes, almost suggestive of the Scandinavian landscape from which he hails, and the music moved through a range of contrasting landscapes before fading into the distance at the end. The piece was never less than striking, often working through contrasting enormous, almost monolithic blocks of sound against one another. This gave way to a very beautiful coda, however, when a solo violin and cello played over quietly melting strings.
David Zinman is the work’s dedicatee and he gave the first performance, so it’s no surprise that he conducted it with vigour and direction, nor that his top class players of the Tonhalle Orchestra blew such wonderful colour through a score that was so condensed in making its impact.
Simon Thompson, seenandheard-international.com
"...a powerfully crafted landscape of slow-moving ice floes and ice screams..."
"In typical Hillborg fashion, Cold Heat explores a paradox – the request of David Zinman (the work’s dedicatee) that it be a “toe-tapping, rhythmic sort of piece, with NO slow music whatsoever” only partly met − as there is a conflict of ideas right from the opening, fluttering high woodwinds take flight against a background of grounded, secure and quiet bass, later punctuated by Sibelian (with a debt to Brahms) trombone and trumpet chorales.
Zinman (who led the premiere with Berliner Philharmoniker last year) was demonstrably having a ball during the furious middle section (strings desperate to get to some unknown destination) before what felt like a sunrise bathed the orchestration: a compelling close, pure stillness. This is a piece well worth catching."
Kevin Rogers, classicalsource.com
"In essence, Cold Heat is a scherzo, much of which proceeds at a considerable lick: Zinman has to gesture frantically in order to conduct it. The whirling figurations, however, are underpinned by a series of sustained chords in brass and strings, and what we actually experience is a slow-moving chorale, fantastically and wildly embroidered. The central section takes the chords away, allowing the music to dance freely. But the chorale returns before the work sinks to its peaceful close. It overstates its case a bit. The Tonhalle played it with cool dexterity and their trademark neat sound."
Tim Ashley, guardian.co.uk
" Yet it was Hillborg who left a more lasting impression. At the podium was David Zinman, music director of Zürich's Tonhalle Orchestra which co-commissioned the new work.
Zinman gracefully commanded the score's complex textures, propelling the steady flow of the piece and shaping the music vividly. The players of the Berlin Philharmonic were particularly alert and followed his gestures with verve. Concert master Daishin Kashimoto led the strings in a muscular but sensitive performance.
Rebecka Schmid, NPR Berlin Blog, January 19, 2011
" Det är snyggt, effektivt, dramatiskt och jag kan inte låta bli att kalla det filmiskt. Det leder över i ett linjärt parti med kontrapunktiska stråkar. Vidare finns också ett överraskande slagverksinpass, effektivt insvängande tuttibleck, täta stråkar och klangmoln som ibland drar åt den där känslan av orkestral elektronisk musik som Hillborg patenterat...
Andreas Engström, Nutida Musik, 16 januari 2011
" Es beginnt mit einem lebhaft suggestiven Vogelgeschwirr der Holzbläser über ruhigen Streicherpassagen, das auf Anhieb gefangen nimmt. Auch weiterhin weiß Hillborg kompositorisch zu fesseln, ohne sich dabei je in die Fesseln irgendwelcher Doktrinen zu legen…
(Berliner Morgenpost, January 14, 2011 - Klaus Geitel )