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Sterling

Helmer ALEXANDERSSON (1886-1927)
Overture in C minor (1910) [10:10]
Symphony No. 2 in G minor (1914, 1919) [38:33]
Uppsala Chamber Orchestra/Paul Mägi
rec. 11-12 January 2006, Uppsala University Aula. DDD
STERLING CDS 1076-2 [48:48]
Experience Classicsonline

Sterling treat us to another late-romantic discovery from Sweden. Long may they continue in this vein.

Alexandersson’s C minor overture is elfin and playful. His Mendelssohnian gossamer touch also interacts with traces of Grainger and Dvořák.

The Second Symphony is grand yet without passionate torment although there is a tragic burden carried by trumpets at 1:40 in the second movement. This is romantic music fused with folk voices. It’s very pleasing too in its curvaceously undulating contours. Smetana's Vltava seems not too far away in parts of the first movement. The pizzicato Intermezzo (III, tr. 4) is delicately pointed and its dynamics are carefully calculated though the effect is carefree. It is a lovely concert encore and could easily make its way onto ClassicFM if any of their producers are listening. Think of the pizzicato movement in Tchaikovsky's Fourth and you have some very sweeping idea of how this movement sounds. The Tchaikovskian finale is sometimes sparklingly jovial and sometimes earnest. In spirit - only - think in terms of Bizet's C minor symphony in chivalric mood with slaloming woodwind and hunting-call work for the brass.

Excellent encyclopaedic notes by Carl-Gunnar Ahlén provide the salient details - and more - of Alexandersson's tragic story. Born in Stockholm into well-heeled circumstances he was one of three children. The death of his father changed their social and material standing and it was only through the kindness of a client of their fathers that all three children attended the Music Conservatory. His sister became an film actress but Helmer won state scholarships in 1910 and 1911. His Olympic March became the official march of the 1912 Olympics. A further scholarship came his way - and well merited too - as a result of the Second Symphony which was premiered by Carl Schneevoight on 18 April 1919 repeated on 20 April that year and twice in 1923. Alexandersson became a player in the Röda Kvarn orchestra sitting on the violin benches alongside Yngve Skold and Hilding Rosenberg. The orchestra also premiered the overture to be heard here. He seems to have been a gentle and unpushy soul and sad to say he died in penury in 1927. Much of his mature life was spent in the drudgery of writing orchestral music for the silent films shown at the Röda Kvarn.

His two works are heard here in live concert performance with, unusually for Sterling, applause included. One can occasionally hear the soft swish of a page turning but there is little enough of this.

Two fine, fresh and unpretentious romantic works that are light of step and folksily carefree.
 
Rob Barnett


 


 




 


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