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Souvenirs from Gothenburg
Josef CZAPEK (1825-1915)

Andante religioso Op.31 (1850) [6:15]
Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884)
Erinnerungen an Böhmen in Polkaform (1859) [17:37]
Elfrida ANDRÉE (1851-1929)
Summer Memories from Bjurslätt (1903) [25:26]
Hilding HALLNÄS (1903-1984)
Sonata for viola and piano Op.19 (1943) [17:00]
Bengt Andersson (viola – Andante religioso, Sonata), Strings from the Göteborg Opera.
Ingemar Edgren (piano – Erinnerungen), Agneta Ågren (piano – Sonata)
rec. Lundby Church 2002-3 and Gothenburg Concert Hall 1979 (Sonata)
ALTFIOL i VÄST AIVCD001 [66:33]



This CD is the first of a series of ‘souvenirs’ from Swedish label Altviol i Fäst, which cover a considerable amount of musical territory previously unknown to the record catalogue. For this reason alone they are deserving of interest, but with high quality performances and recordings I have found the experience to be a pleasantly entertaining one.
 
This disc seems to typify the nostalgic, sometimes sentimental spirit which seems to flourish in music from this part of the world. Josef Czapek’s Andante Religioso is for viola solo and five low string instruments. Born in Prague, Czapek moved to Gothenburg at the age of 22 and became among other things Kapellmeister at the then recently completed Great Theatre. While lyrical and expressive, this straightforward and uncomplicated piece has become available in a number of guises, but would certainly suit amateur ensembles.  
 
Bedrich Smetana’s Erinnerungen an Böhmen in Polkaform were written during the composers stay in Gothenburg where he gave taught and gave concerts as conductor and pianist. Although receiving no mention in the booklet notes, these pieces seem to have been recorded on an elderly piano, giving the performances an authentic feel.  
 
Elfrida Andrée’s Summer Memories from Bjurslätt for strings is her own rearrangement with added contrabass of a String Quartet from 1887. Andrée was cathedral organist in Gothenburg from 1867 to the end of her life. During the summer she used to stay at the country house of the liberal politician and polemic newspaper man Sven Adolf Hedlund at Bjurslätt on the Island of Hisingen. In this recording the string parts are taken by single musicians so that the chamber music feel of the piece is preserved throughout a substantial four movement scheme. The music is effectively written and pleasantly evocative, if relatively innocuous in its adherence to traditional harmonic and melodic development.   
 
Hilding Hallnäs’s Sonata for viola and piano of 1943 is the most recent work on this disc, but fits in well with the rest of the programme with its Nordic sounding romantic idiom. Hallnäs worked in Gothenburg from 1933 until the middle of the 1970s, having some influence on the musical life of the city as organist, teacher at the Music College and as head of the Gothenburg Composers Association.
 
This release is unlikely to create any musical earthquakes, but is well performed and sympathetically recorded. The earlier recording of the Sonata betrays some very slight tape hiss, but has been well mastered and slots in nicely with the more recent digital recordings. If you like gentle romanticism from beyond the North Sea and would like to explore some of its less frequented byways I can recommend this CD without hesitation.

Dominy Clements  
 
Other releases in this series
Volume 2 Souvenirs from West Sweden
Volume 3 Souvenirs from 1974 Concerts


 


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