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Have you ever lost a confidant? That You spent some time together during your youth? The one who is there for you, even telepathically, whenever you feel lonely? That you listen to his teachings on the way to being a good person? Have you had a platonic friend?
Swedish piano virtuoso and composer Esbjörn Svensson corresponds exactly to these thoughts for me. Although we have never met, I have always considered Esbjörn my friend because of his music and his wise words in the his interviews I listened to. When I first listened to his music, its modern, breathing, unique, sincere, fragile and exciting melodies gave me feelings that I had never experienced before. And I must confess that even after all these years, I have never experienced the precedent of these feelings in any music. In the days when I first met his music, my totem was to start the day by listening to Esbjörn Svensson Trio (with Dan Berglund on bass and Magnus Öström on drums) . Esbjörn Svensson’s music is equally arousing to me as morning coffee is to some. Esbjörn was my only supporter during my sleepless exam working nights. His music (of course with Dan Berglund & Magnus Öström ), which was in my ears on my long journeys, was always with me on my short walks in the rain. As precious as the smell of pine trees and wet soil are, E.S.T’s music takes a strong place in my memory. Thank God I have been lucky.
Everyone has very important lines in their music diary. Some praise the youthful years with rock music, some are enamored with Pink Floyd’s timeless classic Dark Side of The Moon album. Are you asking what is most special to me? I love Esbjörn Svensson Trio. During my university years, I used to listen to Esbjörn Svensson Trio all the time on my mp3 player, iPod and portable CD player. E.S.T’s music had become the background music of my life. The sound equivalent of every image I see through the window on the streets I walk and on my train journeys is E.S.T.
His passing after a diving accident in 2008 was one of the most important breaking points of my life. I don’t remember ever having so much respect for someone I’ve never met before, and that their absence made me feel so unhappy. I remember they were supposed to give a concert in Istanbul on November 29th. When I saw this news on their web site, I was crazy with joy. But unfortunately life did not allow me to meet my musical hero.
The legend of Esbjörn Svensson, which I have mentioned so far is my personal effects in my life as a long time music lover. This legacy also has captured an unprecedented audience for European music lovers.
HOME.S., which was recently released via ACT Music label. Esbjörn Svensson’s solo recording allowed us to hear the irreplaceable musician’s music that we have never heard before. This album also has the distinction of being Svensson’s only known solo recording. The late artist’s wife, Eva Svensson, secured all the recordings on his computer after the pianist’s unexpected death and kept them untouched until 2017-2018. Then she shared the material with sound engineer Åke Linton, who had been involved in all E.S.T. recordings and live performances, trusted old friend of Esbjörn. They listened to the recording in studio in absolute silence until it was over, and they gave themselves a period of silence to feel Esbjörn’s message that he transcended the boundaries of fate and delivered to the future. Linton investigated and confirmed that Esbjörn did not go to any studio to this record at the time this recording was recorded. Esbjörn had learned to record with a professional tape recorder from Linton and recorded it himself in the basement of his house. In line with the information conveyed by his wife, we know that the music is based on a certain written document, but we do not yet know how much of it is improvised, how much is written compositions.
With the news of Esbjörn’s death a few weeks after the recording of the album, life progressed in a completely different perspective for the family, and keeping the legacy safe was the first and foremost priority at that time.
When Eva Svensson believed that the time had come, she decided to present this recording with Esbjörn lovers. The names of the pieces were chosen from Esbjörn’s passion, astronomy and the Greek alphabet. With the journey into the unknown in an environment where there is no gravity, an undefined space attributed to Esbjörn’s secrets and quests of space was created. The listener is left with an area of meaning that includes the limits or infinities of their imaginations.
Esbjörn Svensson got acquainted with the piano, when he was listening to Chopin, which his mother played when he was 2 years old. Then he started to connect with music by playing basic Boogie Woggie chords. He was a very successful student when he entered music school at the age of 16. He never saw the reason for his success as innate talent. His secret could be described as constant study, research and experimentation. He had always been interested in classical music compositions. He experimented with the works of master composers such as Bethoveen, Bach and Mozart. His works on Chopin’s complex works established him as a basis for improvisation in his trio projects.
While listening to HOME.S., you hear that he made extensive use of classical music works that he loved so much. You can feel Esbjörn’s breath in the room you are in when you hear the unique improvisations that can easily be caught on the radar of the long-time followers of the group like me. He was a successful composer and creative improviser. Sometimes he would produce so many melodies that he was lost in the midst of so many new ideas. These unique melodies have inspired generations even after 14 years of Esbjörn’s physical absence.
I would like to understand how musicians add something from themselves to their music in my interviews and conversations. I’d like to understand their musical sincerity: “Are they trying to manipulate our emotions or are they real romantics?”
When I learned that Esbjörn, at the age of 19, spent hours playing his piano alone in his apartment thinking of his beloved wife before he got married, and sent that cassette tape to his wife, I came to the conclusion that the magnificent pianist used music as a diary to express himself in the best way. When I watched his interview that recorded 16 years ago, in which he shared this touching memory, his sincerity seemed to be beyond words.
I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to the album in any physical format yet. But I felt that the volume was low in the digital version transmitted from ACT-Music. Since I know that Åke Linton, the sound engineer who has his signature on the sound quality of E.S.T’s albums, was involved in the project, I guess there is probably a palpable clarity in the analogue versions. But didn’t have chance to test it and compare them honestly. Considering that the album is a home recording, I consider that sound quality acceptable. I recommend it to all Esbjörn friends who are not obsessed with the recording quality.
HOME.S is a recording full of emotion and depth, where many Esbjörn friends like me reunite with old friends beyond the borders of fate. For him, music and piano were a complete meditation tool. It was the moment when he experienced the miracle of stopping time, completely freeing his consciousness. My last words will be the last words of his wife Eva about the album. “Thank you Esbjörn. This is beautiful.”
You can buy the album from Bandcamp or press the cover art photo below