The cool air of the north...
K. Farrington | Missegre, France | 07/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This veritable gem of a CD arrived last week and has not been off my turntable since. It reveals the depth of quality serious music that has come out of Sweden over the past 100 years, notwithstanding its neglect in the UK at least. When my mind has formerly thought of the music of Scandinavia, I have had comparitively little to think about outside of Grieg, Nielsen ands Sibelius. This CD and its sister Swedish Music volume 1 show how the Swedes have their own national heroes that use those two sources of inspiration with as much aplomb as our English composers over the same period: folksong and landscape. This CD is for much more delicate forces than its sister but that does not mean we are short changed in emotion or substantial developmental writing. The Lyric Fantasy of Larsson is a summer tone poem after the manner of Delius (but without the chromaticism of 'the curate proselytising')and is nevertheless totally original in its mood and flavours. Its water colored hues takes us through a landscape filled with good things, like a child's garden bathed in sunlight as in T S Eliot's 'Four Quartets': 'Burnt Norton' where Eliot depicts our early years with devastating effect yet without cloying nostalgia. The flute comes into its own in de Frumerie's 'Pastoral Suite' which may be thought of as a 'Pastoral Flute Concerto': again we are in those summer days of long ago but now we have a little pathos and nostalgia added to the phrasing and harmonies with looking back in regret and a sense of loss. The influence of Ravel can be seen here but again it is nothing more than a cross reference, for the work here is totally original in scope, the nordic warmth being pastel in its intensity under the golden sun. The finely divided strings of Blomdahl's 'Adagio' are hushed and sad in a truly heart felt piece that is comparable to Grieg's own, with oboe and woodwind intoning birdsong against the sadness contained in the strings. Kurt Attenberg's Suite No 3 is redolent of Moeran's smaller pieces, packed with imaginatinative writing and clean authentic phrasing. Larsson's 'Adagio for string orchestra is only 5 minutes long but has that deep breathed atmosphere of a Shostakovich symphony, say the Largos of his 5th and 10th symphonies, where the Russian master can summon up the depths of a November night in the north and lead to a mood of introversion and deep melancholia. Despite its short duration, this is the 'biggest' work for me on the disc. It is truly awesome! In similar vein, the Rangstrom 'Divertimento elegiaco' is longer but perhaps its 15 minute length means it dissipates its pathos over too long a period. Perhaps that is just me, perhaps other listeners will form another view. Nevertheless, Naxos show once again that bargain price can walk hand in hand with superlative novel pieces for most of us, splendidly played and excellently recorded."
A wonderful introduction to Swedish classical music
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 05/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is good to be introduced to hitherto unknown composers and their music when it is all on such a high level. Having missed the first collection, I am delighted to report that on the friendly Naxos label (8.553715) is well worth the hearing. [The Amazon.com designation of Vol. V is incorrect.] As the liner notes put it, "Five composers who represent the rich tapestry of Swedish music composed in the twentieth century" are presented on this CD: Lars-Erik Larsson, Gunnar de Frumerie, Karl-Birger Blomdahl, Kurt Atterberg, and Ture Rangstrom. This is my first experience with classical Swedish music and I am thoroughly impressed. The music is lyrical and passionate, now reminding one of the darker side of of the northern landscape as (say) in some Bergman films and now of the humor of "Smiles of a Summer Night" as these contrasting pieces are played by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and soloists under Petter Sundkvist. And I do plan to get my hands on Vol 1, as soon as I can."