Symphony No. 3 - Lapland
Earina Suite for Orchestra
Chorale and Fugue from The Doomseday Prophets
Orchestra - Michail Jurowski
recorded May 3-7. 1999 in the De Geer Hall, Norrkoping.
CPO 999 632-2
DDD Stereo, 70
We are again indebted to CPO for producing another disc of Scandinavian
symphonies. Over the past few years we have had symphonies of Petterssen,
Rangstroem, Wiren and the like. Here we have the next in what seems to be
a series of orchestral works of Wilhelm Peterson-Berger. Another release
in the series of five symphonies, hopefully part of a complete series.
When listening to symphonies which are out of the main stream, I sometimes
feel that the levels of inspiration are limited and attention starts to wander.
I did not feel this with the current issue, and I am sure that Petersen-Berger's
expertise in very tuneful piano miniatures and songs hold him in good stead.
Symphony No. 3 was inspired by Lapland and was written between 1913 - 1915.
There are parallels to Bartok (although not in harmonic characteristics)
in the use of Lapp folk melodies. The Lapp equivalent to the folk music collected
by Bartok (and Kodaly), were called Jojks. These were wordless improvised
chants sung by the Lapps. Many of these were collected by the composer's
friend Karl Tiren, who spent many years travelling through Lappland recording
and collecting these chants. Petersen-Berger was enchanted by these recordings
and absorbed the atmosphere of them into his symphony. There are the normal
four movements, the third of which is a wonderful long breathed adagio (Summer
The additional works on the disc are as enjoyable as the symphony. The first
(Earina - Suite for Orchestra) are orchestrations of five of the composer's
piano pieces. These miniatures stand by themselves and do not sound as
arrangements, but orchestral pieces in their own right. The second, (Choral
and Fugue Andante - con moto) is from the comic opera "The Doomesday Prophets",
the third of Petersen-Berger's four operas. It was lifted from the opera
by Gunnar Johansson in 1970, and established its independent life as an
The entire disc is played beautifully by the Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra.
They have come a long way over the years (I remember a tentative performance
of Petterson's 6th Symphony with Okko Kamu issued by CBS in the
early 70's) and are now a very competent ensemble. Scandinavia is extremely
lucky to have symphony orchestras of this calibre. The playing of these works
under the conductor Michail Jurowski is assured, accurate, and very beautiful.
It is set in an acoustic which is of normal very good radio orchestra sound.
The recording was done in conjunction with the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation,
and is a good example of such a collaboration.
Add to this a very attractive cover picture and the usual very high quality
booklet with exhaustive notes on the composer, his life, and these works,
CPO has given us here a disc which I hope many readers will cone to listen
to and enjoy.