thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded
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Helmer ALEXANDERSSON (1886-1927)
Overture in C minor (1910) [10:10]
Symphony No. 2 in G minor (1914, 1919) [38:33]
Uppsala Chamber Orchestra/Paul
rec. 11-12 January 2006, Uppsala University Aula. DDD STERLING CDS 1076-2
Sterling treat us to another late-romantic
discovery from Sweden. Long may they continue in this vein.
Alexandersson’s C minor overture is elfin and
playful. His Mendelssohnian gossamer touch also interacts with
traces of Grainger and Dvořák.
The Second Symphony is grand yet without passionate
torment although there is a tragic burden carried by trumpets
at 1:40 in the second movement. This is romantic music fused
with folk voices. It’s very pleasing too in its curvaceously
undulating contours. Smetana's Vltava seems not too far
away in parts of the first movement. The pizzicato Intermezzo
(III, tr. 4) is delicately pointed and its dynamics are carefully
calculated though the effect is carefree. It is a lovely concert
encore and could easily make its way onto ClassicFM if any of
their producers are listening. Think of the pizzicato
movement in Tchaikovsky's Fourth and you have some very sweeping
idea of how this movement sounds. The Tchaikovskian finale is
sometimes sparklingly jovial and sometimes earnest. In spirit
- only - think in terms of Bizet's C minor symphony in chivalric
mood with slaloming woodwind and hunting-call work for the brass.
Excellent encyclopaedic notes by Carl-Gunnar
Ahlén provide the salient details - and more - of Alexandersson's
tragic story. Born in Stockholm into well-heeled circumstances
he was one of three children. The death of his father changed
their social and material standing and it was only through the
kindness of a client of their fathers that all three children
attended the Music Conservatory. His sister became an film actress
but Helmer won state scholarships in 1910 and 1911. His Olympic
March became the official march of the 1912 Olympics. A further
scholarship came his way - and well merited too - as a result
of the Second Symphony which was premiered by Carl Schneevoight
on 18 April 1919 repeated on 20 April that year and twice in
1923. Alexandersson became a player in the Röda Kvarn orchestra
sitting on the violin benches alongside Yngve Skold and Hilding
Rosenberg. The orchestra also premiered the overture to be heard
here. He seems to have been a gentle and unpushy soul and sad
to say he died in penury in 1927. Much of his mature life was
spent in the drudgery of writing orchestral music for the silent
films shown at the Röda Kvarn.
His two works are heard here in live concert
performance with, unusually for Sterling, applause included.
One can occasionally hear the soft swish of a page turning but
there is little enough of this.
Two fine, fresh and unpretentious romantic
works that are light of step and folksily carefree.
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