£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


BRAHMS Complete Edition
58CD £95.22


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download from The Classical Shop

Johan SVENDSEN (1840-1911)
Orchestral Works - Volume 2
Norwegian Rhapsody No.3 Op.21 (1876) [8:43]
Norwegian Rhapsody No.4 Op.22 (1877) [11:47]
Cello Concerto in D major Op.7 (1870) [19:18]
Symphony No.2 in B flat major Op.15 (1876) [31:56]
Truls Mørk (cello)
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
rec. Grieghallen, Bergen Norway, 27 August 2010 (Rhapsody No.3); 31 August 2010 (Rhapsody No.4); 23-25 August 2011 (Concerto, Symphony)
CHANDOS CHAN10711 [72:09]

Experience Classicsonline


Neeme Järvi’s association with the wonderful Bergen Philharmonic continues to bear impressive fruit. Their Chandos-Halvorsen set was a recent highlight and this second disc in the Svendsen cycle continues the good impression. Chandos follow the same programming formula as they did with the Halvorsen creating a concert-like disc with music of a range of scale and musical weight. Given that Svendsen remains a relatively unfamiliar composer this makes excellent sense offering the listener a good overview of his style.
 
With the exception of the cello concerto I have encountered all of the music here before although differently coupled. Tempting - and neat - though it must be for progammers to bring together all four of the Norwegian Rhapsodies sequentially I think Chandos are extremely wise to split them as here. This disc opens with the third and fourth. They were conceived as a set and given adjacent opus numbers. Svendsen found the traditional melodies in a published collection. Unlike some other nationalist composers he was not a field collector. These works are simply and effectively presented. Liner writer B. Morten Christophersen points up a compositional technique Svendsen uses called ‘changing background technique’. In essence this means that the tune in the foreground is repeated unchanged while ‘background’ harmony and accompaniment varies. This does rather support Constant Lambert’s view that all you can do with a folk-tune is play it again … but louder. Beautiful as these melodies and their arrangements are I must admit four rhapsodies on the bounce would be too much! Also, Svendsen does not make any effort to give them a nature setting - for want of a better term - in the way Holst or Vaughan Williams do in their Somerset or Norfolk Rhapsodies. So if these pieces are appealing but not remarkable they do serve to point up the many virtues of these performances which are fully alive to the natural ebb and flow of this music. We hear lovely, supple and elegant playing - I’m thinking especially of the principal oboe who is stunning throughout. Also, in the Grieghallen, Chandos have found a recording venue that allows them to produce a consistently fine sound of ideal richness and warmth but with inner detail that is also abundantly clear. Likewise, as I noted with the Halvorsen releases, Järvi seems in his element producing readings that have his hallmark energy and flair but with the emotional engagement that has been lacking in some of his more recent discs.
 
The rarity on this disc is the early Cello Concerto. In its use of one-linked-movement form Morten Christophersen’s liner-note points up the Liszt E flat piano concerto as a probable model. Formally that might indeed be the case but this piece occupies a very different emotional sphere with restrained lyricism in the place of Lisztian display. Truls Mørk is a predictably fine and insightful soloist with just the right rich but unforced tone to make the most of this unpretentious but very appealing work. This has been recorded before back in 1974 by cellist Hege Waldeland but to all intents and purposes this will be a first encounter for many collectors and indeed the main reason for considering purchasing the disc. By that criterion, even allowing for the risk of other duplications, this is worth the financial outlay. No lost masterpiece for sure but a beautiful reflective work that deserves to be better known both on disc and in the concert hall.
 
You can understand why the two Svendsen symphonies made such a stir - both were written at a time when Norwegian ‘Art’ music was not given much import in its own right. The first is a work of remarkable potential but it is the second, recorded here, that shows the composer at his considerable best. Again, it does not seek revelatory depths or profundity but as a thoroughly enjoyable work of great melodic beauty it is as satisfying a half hour’s music-making as any. Interestingly this is not Järvi’s first recording. He coupled the two Svendsen symphonies on a BIS disc played by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra as long ago as 1986. It makes for a fascinating comparison and one without an outright ‘winner’. Järvi in 1986 is nearly two minutes quicker than 2011 - every movement swifter to a varying degree. The BIS recording is predictably excellent too but less opulent than Chandos. The extra thrust in the earlier version of the first movement makes it more dramatic and exciting but the poetry of the second movement Andante Sostenuto is diminished and the Bergen clarinetist is a subtler player. Likewise the gentle Intermezzo third movement - one of those pieces that hovers on the edge of high class light music - benefits from the more benevolent incarnation of 2011. However, the final movement again gains from those little moments of adrenaline-driven drama that typified so many Järvi recordings from the 1980s. Also, the extra edge to the BIS sound allows the brass writing in the final pages to blaze through. If I had to choose one Järvi version of the symphony alone I would opt for the BIS version by the shortest possible head but that is a reflection of my stylistic preference.
 
I have not heard volume 1 of this particular series as it focused on a collection of Svendsen’s slighter works. With this second volume and the inclusion of the rare concerto and excellent Second Symphony it has clearly hit its stride. One assumes the third volume will include the First Symphony and the Violin Concerto. There is the infamous story that Svendsen’s actress wife threw the full score of a Third Symphony onto the fire in a fit of pique thus inspiring a similar scene in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler - now if Chandos could rediscover that work …?
 
There have been numerous other discs of Svendsen’s music - a three CD set from CPO with the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra under Terje Mikkelsen (CPO 777 3722) covers the same repertoire as these Chandos discs but with the exclusion of the concertante works. Mikkelsen favours a generally broader approach and the recording while fully acceptable does not seriously challenge either BIS or Chandos on the technical front. Under the aegis of the Norwegian Cultural Council the Bergen Philharmonic recorded various pieces including the four rhapsodies conducted by Karsten Andersen. These can now be viewed as stop-gaps very much superseded by these newer discs. Elsewhere, the symphonies are often - indeed logically - paired including versions from Jansons in Oslo on EMI, Engeset in Bournemouth on Naxos and Rasilainen with the Norwegian Radio Symphony on Warner/Apex. Chandos are even in competition with themselves with Dausgaard and the Danish National RSO. I have heard none of those paired symphony versions for comparison. Certainly this is music admirers of traditional romantic symphonies and symphonic repertoire ought to know. That being the case, this hugely enjoyable disc of undemandingly appealing music presented in typically superb Chandos sound is an excellent place to start.
 
Nick Barnard 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






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.