Scandinavian Smörgåsbord
Halvorsen, Bull, Grieg, Svendsen, Kuhlau, Nielsen, Alfven, Lumbye. Oivin Fjeldstad, John Frandsen, Lavard Friisholm, Sir John Barbirolli.
Full contents list at end of review
MAGDALEN METCD 8017 [78:34]
See John Sheppard’s review
James Murray is the guiding hand and mind behind this nostalgic and tightly packed collection of short Scandinavian treasures from the analogue catalogue of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The sound is crystal clear and enjoyable but inevitably shows its age. Murray also provides the extensive notes on composers and artists.
It’s lighter fare that is strong on charm and pictorialism. Most of Halvorsen’s music fell away into obscurity for years. His Entry of the Boyars kept his name alive with recordings by Ormandy and Berglund. He subsisted as a one-hit wonder for years rather like Reznícek and Donna Diana and Weinberger and Schwanda the Bagpiper. Everything changed with the Chandos series of four volumes under Neeme Järvi. This Fjeldstad-conducted Entry of the Boyars is typically cheery and with woodwind playing that ripples with close proximity character. That splendidly mobile virtuoso clarinet introduction sets the tone for the rest of the piece. Allow for a little blare, given the clear-as-a-pin 1958 vintage sound. The Grieg Norwegian Bridal Procession links nicely with the crisp rustic charm and chuckle of the famous Alfvén piece. The Svendsen shouts majestic confidence and hymns the lights of long-dead imperial ballrooms.
There’s approaching 25 minutes of Friedrich Kuhlau – his Elverhoj music captured for the first time on CD. This is John Frandsen’s 1955 recording for Philips with the Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra. The music makes play with the vocabulary of Rossini and the lighter Beethoven: pleasant rather than attention grabbing. Back to the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Fjeldstad for the sentimentally romantic Ole Bull which made me wonder whether Percy Grainger knew and loved this piece. Much the same applies to Grieg’s Last Spring heard here in a sometimes urgently impelled 1958 Barbirolli recording. There are three Lumbye dances peopled with strutting hussars and twirling moustaches in the Britta Polka and novelty railway sounds in the Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop. The Lumbye style is a counterpart to the Vienna of the Strauss family, Lanner, Gungl, Komzak and Kalman. Fjeldstad’s Intermezzo from Nielsen’s Little Suite feels a shade rushed though the pressure works well with the Cockerel’s Dance.
This is a confident romp through innocent Scandinavian fare resuscitated from the 1950s-60s LP era.
  Rob Barnett
A confident romp through innocent Scandinavian fare brought from the 1950s-60s LP era.
1. Johan HALVORSEN (1864-1935) Bojarnes Inntogsmarsj - Entry of the Boyars [4:14]
2. Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Norwegian Bridal Procession Op 19/2 (arr. Halvorsen) [3:23]
3. Johan SVENDSEN (1840-1911) Festival Polonaise Op 12 [7:50]
4-8. Friedrich KUHLAU (1786-1832) Elverhøj Op 100 – Overture [12:22] and Ballet Music (Polonaise; Contredanse; Children’s Dance; Menuet) [12:17]
9. Ole BULL (1810-1880) Sæterjentens Søndag - Herdgirl’s Sunday (arr. Svendsen) [3:12]
10. Hans Christian LUMBYE (1810-1874) Britta-Polka [2:04]
11. Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Little Suite Op 1 – Intermezzo [5:14]
12. Hugo ALFVÉN (1872-1960) Midsommarvaka - Midsummer Vigil Op 19 [12:15]
13. Carl NIELSEN Maskarade – Dance of the Cockerels [4:40
14. Edvard GRIEG Elegiac Melodies – Våren - Last Spring [4:26]
15-16. Hans Christian LUMBYE Champagne Galop [2:01] Copenhagen Steam Railway Galop [3:37]
Nos. 1, 2, 3, 9, 11-13 - Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Ølvin Fjeldstad; rec. Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, 11 April 1958
No. 4-8 – Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra/John Frandsen; rec. Radio Studio, Copenhagen, 28 February & 1 March 1955
Nos. 10, 15-16 – Copenhagen Symphony Orchestra/Lavard Friisholm; rec. originally issued in 1961
No. 14 – Halle Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli, rec. Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 9-10 August 1958

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