One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                     Editor in Chief: John Quinn              


Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Deaconoff; Stockhausen

Live at the Clifton Festival

Choir at Clifton Cathedral


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


alternatively AmazonUK

Hugo ALFVÉN (1872-1960)
Synnøve Solbakken: Suite (from filmscore) Op. 50 (1934) [27:48]
En Bygdesaga (A Country Tale): Suite (from filmscore for Mans kvinna Op. 53 (1944) [33:09]
Elégie (At Emil Sjögren’s funeral) Op. 38 [12:15]
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/Niklas Willén
rec. De Geer Hall, Norrköping, Sweden, 17-18 June 2004, 23-27 May 2005. DDD
NAXOS 8.557828 [73:12]

The two suites derived from film music which Alfvén wrote during the 1930s and 1940s. They recall the pastoral mood of his much earlier and probably best-known work Midsummer Vigil. The plot of both films involves romantic liaisons set in the countryside which run into difficulties but end happily. Neither seems to have been a success at the box office but that had nothing to do with the music which was subsequently reduced into two six movement suites. These only vaguely seem to paraphrase the plots; Synnøve Solbakken generally focuses more on sex than violence whereas the reverse is true in En Bygdesaga.
Synnøve [of] Solbakken is the name of the heroine, lover of Torbjörn who gets injured in a fight with a rival. The opening Sunday Morning in the Forest is lush and punctuated by cuckoo calls. Synnøve then contemplates her love on the mountain pasture before Poignant grief intervenes but the atmosphere is hardly less pastoral. The fourth movement is called Torbjörn and Synnøve and they seem to be dancing. Yearning is followed by a return to Solbakken – the name of the village rather than a surname – where no doubt they all lived happily ever after. If my summary makes it sound perfunctory, the music is actually quite delightful and obviously Scandinavian, clearly deriving much from Grieg.
En Bygdesaga means “A Country Tale” and is rather sterner stuff. Certainly the introduction has some drama but Dreams and some moments in Guilty Love – Anguish remind us that this is set deep in the heart of the Swedish countryside. The fourth movement is called Jealousy but soon leads to a Pastorale. The fifth movement is a funeral march but the lovers have survived to escape across the fields in a finale called Baying of Wolves.
The Swedish organist and composer Emil Sjögren died in 1918 and his funeral inspired this powerful and extended elegy. The booklet tells us that this “tribute is a tone poem that often anticipates the Fourth Symphony on which he was soon to embark”. There is also an obvious direct reference to an anguished theme which eventually found its way into the much later Fifth Symphony.
This disc seems to be by way of a follow-up to the recently issued recording of Alfvén’s Fifth Symphony from the same forces in Norrköping (see review). That has already become a potential disc of the year for me – wonderfully committed playing which outshines rivals from the capital under Neeme Järvi. Here the orchestra are less taxed but there is much sensitive playing on offer. Once again they are very well recorded.
The elegy is a work of substance but the two suites are programme music based on programmes which lack just that. Nevertheless it is good that Alfvén’s music is being rescued from oblivion and it will be enjoyed by anyone who warms to the Midsummer Vigil.
Patrick C Waller


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3



Aho Symphony 5

Dowland - A Fancy


Rachmaninov_ Babayan



Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.