Review by Alexander Agrell, Sydsvenskan 31 May 2016.

Read in Swedish here.

Varied and beautiful by Johan Hugosson.

Johan Hugosson, Måns Block & Vindla String Quartet: Palladium, Malmö, 31/5

…Concert pianist Johan Hugosson (raised in Lund, educated in London, where he now lives) seized last Tuesday with two concerts at Palladium recorded for a TV production.

The program was designed as a journey between different locations, a tried and tested working model, and the music shifted accordingly. Overall Hugosson’s ambitious initiative felt musically coherent.

He was supported by Vindla String Quartet and percussionist Måns Block who accompanied mainly on the wooden box cajón. At times one was reminded of Astor Piazzolla’s music arranged for strings; all drama and high emotion, punch and attack, often in a minor key and with a taste for stepwise movement in the melody and arrangement.

We moved between Estonian Pärnu, the Alhambra Palace in Spain, the Arctic Circle, the mountain Sainte-Victoire in Provence, the English countryside and the Carnival of Venice. Lots of emotion, very atmospheric and often very beautiful.

“Rainy Day”, which takes place in Paris, was calm, tender and a little sad, with a nod to the French Impressionists, while the environment surrounding the dreary British mansion at dusk was hauntingly effective. The journey on the London Underground became heated. The meditation on the northern lights alternated between brittle folk melody, melancholic triple time and joyful waltz.

The arrangements gave Vindla a variety of tasks, which the versatile group performed gallantly. Johan Hugosson’s presentation of environment and his thoughts about each piece set the tone for the audience and gave it a more personal touch.

The piano playing was, unsurprisingly, technically brilliant. Clear throughout it moved between magnificently powerful passages and gentle, flowing lyricism.

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