Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Symphony No. 1 (1897)
Gustav II Adolf suite (1932)
Swedish Radio SO/Stig Westerberg
rec 1972 (sym), 1967 (Gustav)
The Alfvén Edition Vol. 1.

Swedish Society are breathing new life into their catalogue. The tapes (usually of high and sturdy quality) are being recoupled with long running times.

The Alfvén orchestral music is a staple of Stefan Nävermyr's label. The First Symphony, with its dignity, resolute tone, humour and colour, carried resemblances to that of Berwald (listen to the end of the first movement), Elgar and Brahms without quite the total elation and compelling invention of the latter two. The composer is good at charm and his Tchaikovskian wind writing dances and smiles guilelessly out at you in the third and fourth movements. Uncharacteristically the engineer seems to have held back on the levels for climaxes leaving some of the punches pulled. The Gustav music from 1932 is free from technical blemish (the quiet clicks in the Bourrée are presumably the sound of the woodwind levers?) and lacks nothing in imagination. Emperor Ferdinand's Chapel and The Vision are regal, hymn-like (Dawn on the Moskva), and in it you catch echoes of Mascagni, Strauss (Rosenkavalier) Sibelius (Finlandia) and Tchaikovsky. You do not expect Intermezzos to be fugal but this one is and an antidote it is too to all those machine-like fugues. Similar qualities hiccup their way through the Bourrée but in Mozartian accents. The dashing activity of the Intermezzo is like the visceral sections of Elgar's Introduction and Allegro crossed with a pinch or two of Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky. The Elegy is heartfelt but lacks memorability a quality fully in play in the 11 minute Breitenfeld finale. This returns to the rising hymnal devotion and passion of the Vision and Chapel. It also adds a stormy Lisztian cavalry assault for good measure rolling in filmic waves of brass fanfares and Aida-reminiscent trumpetry.

Generously served up, this disc is well worth adding to your collection. There is no similarly coupled competition. I can hardly wait for the Fourth Symphony. Can we hope that it will jump the queue?

Rob Barnett

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit