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Oskar LINDBERG (1887-1955)
Symphony in F major, Op. 16 (1913-1916) [37:03]
Fiddler Per, He Fiddled, Op. 32 (1930) [10:37]
Three Impressions of Travel, Op. 20 (1919) [15:57]
Örebro Symphony Orchestra / Stig Westerberg
rec. 18-10 May 1994, Concert Hall, Örebro, Sweden
STERLING CDS1015-2 [56:12]

Oskar Lindberg was a composer of popular organ and choral works. I have previously reviewed his Requiem, an impressive score of richly melodic bent. It is hardly surprising he veered towards these particular genres, as he was organist at the Engelbrekt Church in Stockholm for forty years. He also taught music at the city’s Royal College of Music. A homebird by inclination, he never strayed further afield. His orchestral music includes one symphony, two rhapsodies, four suites, five symphonic poems and six small orchestral pieces. Two of the works on this release, the Symphony and Fiddler Per, He Fiddled are receiving their world premiere recordings.

The Symphony in F major, Op. 16 took Lindberg three years to complete; he also put some finishing touches to it prior to its Stockholm premiere, under Georg Schnéevoigt in 1917. The composer undertook further revisions, specifically to the wind parts, prior to a broadcast he conducted in 1942. It is a lush late Romantic canvas, with echoes of Brahms, Wagner and Franck. His fellow countrymen, Peterson-Berger and Alfvén are also detectable influences. The first movement is very attractive and melodically generous. For lovers of Sibelius, the second movement will surely seduce you. The opening theme, decorated with some exquisite woodwind passages, is beguiling. A more pressing middle section, where strings and brass make a striking contribution, offers some contrast, before the opening theme reappears. Towards the end the music builds to a noble climax. A menacing tread ushers in the finale, which has a slight martial feel to it. The music struts along with determination and confidence. There are more settled moments, again gilded with some enchanting woodwind writing. After fresh rhapsodic episodes, the Symphony ends assertively.

Fiddler Per, He Fiddled—an unusual title—is also known as Rhapsody on Swedish Folk-Tunes. It is an engaging potpourri of folk songs, sadly let down by a fairly gauche ending. It was entered for a composition concert in 1930. Of the forty entries, Lindberg’s score was one of four winners who were rewarded with the accolade of a radio performance.

Lindberg was one of the founding members of the Association of Swedish Composers, acting as its treasurer for fifteen years. At the association’s inaugural concert, the Three Impressions of Travel, Op. 20 were performed, with the composer at the helm. The work is his second Suite for Orchestra. The three movements are titled: "To the High Mountains", "As Night Comes On" and "Through the Wood". The pieces are attractive, tuneful and undemanding. Again, Sibelius seems not too far away. As Night Comes On is the one I prefer. Utterly bewitching, it is the sort of music you can just sit back and savour.

The booklet notes are in English and Swedish, and the recorded sound is top-notch. The Örebro Symphony Orchestra under Stig Westerberg offer persuasive accounts.

Stephen Greenbank

 




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