Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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HUGO ALFVÉN (1972-1960) Symphony No. 3 (1905) [35.11] Legend of the Skerries (1904) [18.11] Dalecarlian Rhapsody (1931) [24.48]   Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Niklas Willén rec Glasgow 1/2 Feb 1996 NAXOS 8.553729  [78.46]

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This is another valuable series launched with casual confidence by Naxos and promising what it delivers. At one stage those wanting to explore the Scandinavian repertoire were committed to full-price discs. Now Naxos have opened up the market in a revolutionary way. It was not surprising that the label would offer bargain price recordings of the mainstream. What was staggering and is now beginning to be taken for granted is that they would launch a series like this and a host of others in areas usually regarded as obscure and of minor niche interest.

Dalarapsodi is a late work which in pregnant mistiness promises great things. These take in a sunlit Delian glow in the east, a wash of romance, a jolly rustic dance for subtle strings and a swaying Straussian tune of high romance at 6.40.

The Legend of the Skerries is extremely attractive incorporating a spell of dreams on summer waters (3.10), waves and swell crashing and surging over the reefs (5.30), 8.55 impressionistic washes of flute and harp suggest wandering wrack, slightly bombastic brass (9.57) and a big tune (10.08) lit by seabird's song in the woodwind (11.00).

The symphony's first movement is a rustic pastoral the allegro con brio of which grazes and smashes the cliffs and skerries. The second movement is relaxed and Tchaikovskian including an un-nerving echo of No place like home. The dashing presto (III) is accorded a fine performance with wide stage recording to match. It is all rather light-hearted and not very symphonic in mood. It does however find its way to a gracious rocking figure and some glorious woodwind and string writing dancing with hearts afire. The finale has a bouncing ebullience that lifts and drives the allegro con brio.

It is while since I heard any other performance of this fine work: spindrift blows across the sea spattered vista. It is pictorial like Berlioz's Le Corsair and Rubinstein's Ocean Symphony - a markedly inferior piece. Though well short of the compelling invention of Atterburg 3 and Nystroem Del Mare it is a most engaging work.

It is interesting that Alfven, Nystroem and Peterson-Berger went to Italy to release and discover their sea inspiration.

Great liner notes by Sven Kruckenberg.

Recommended as a highly accomplished, enjoyable and certainly generous disc.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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