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Karl-Birger BLOMDAHL (1916–1968)
Sisyfos Suite (1954) [17:18]
Hilding ROSENBERG (1892–1985)
The Voyage to America (1932); Intermezzo [3:53]: Järnvägsfuga [6:06]
Franz BERWALD (1796-1868)
Symphony No.2 Capricieuse (1842) [25:22]
Allan PETTERSSON (1911-1980)
Barefoot Songs orch Doráti (1943-45) [23:31]
Herren gĺr pĺ ängen (The Lord Walks in the Meadow)
Klokar och knythänder (Wise Men and Clenched Hands)
Blomma säj! (Flower, Tell Me)
Jungfrun och Ljugarpust (The Maiden and the Lying Wind)
Men flugorna surre (While the Flies are Buzzing)
Du lögnar (Telling Lies)
Min längtan (My Yearning)
En spelekarls himlafärd (Death of a Fiddler)
Erik Saedén (baritone)
Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Antal Doráti
rec. October 1967
No texts

The Blomdahl, Berwald and Rosenberg works were first issued on an RCA Victor LP in 1968 but the Pettersson Barefoot Songs come from a rarer vinyl, an undated Lyssna LP. This last has never made it to CD, which makes its appearance here valuable.

The disc is one of the latest batch of reissued material from the Antal Doráti Society in which studio and live material are happily in plentiful supply. Charting the conductor’s expertise in Swedish music is also a worthwhile undertaking, not least because he was an authoritative exponent and because recordings of the works in question are hardly lying thick underfoot. Take Blomdahl’s Sisyfos suite, an intense, sometimes uneasy study, quasi-jazzy in small places in its rhythmic undertow, full of contrast and dissonant tension. In its dramatic accumulation of material, laced with percussion and lacerating trumpets, it makes for a fine sonic experience, seventeen minutes that pass quickly given the variety of incident involved.

There are more contrasts in the two sections from Rosenberg’s The Voyage to America. The stirring romance of the Intermezzo, four minutes of buffeting drama, runs up against the gutsy vigour of a fugal movement with its lovely wind writing, and its admirably unshowy sense of control. Doráti gives full rein to the flair and warmth of Rosenberg’s invention. Though the individual movements of Berwald’s symphony are untracked it’s worth persisting for the conductor’s feel for the idiom. The full score of the work is lost but a short score exists. Unperformed for decades it was premiered in 1914 over 70 years after it was written in c 1842. I’m assuming that Doráti used the old Ernst Ellberg version because the one prepared by Nils Castegren in 1968 was published in 1970 and so postdates this LP recording. It’s this later edition that is usually performed these days. It’s not, in all honesty, Berwald’s most gripping orchestral statement but it is fresh and lyrical.

The Pettersson is notable because the songs were orchestrated by the conductor. Of the twenty-four Pettersson wrote Doráti selected a third for this recording in which Erik Saedén is the baritone soloist. The cleverness of the orchestrations lies in their variety, in the use of winds, in the strategic employment of pizzicati, and specifically in the subtly deployed Mahlerian sonic world of the second song in this sequence, Klokar och knythhänder. Pettersson’s use of the folkloric is obvious, most fervently so in Mens flugorna surra. The composer wrote the texts and in the conductor found an adept orchestrator and proselytizer for this vivid and attractive music, the Schubertian echoes of which – in evocation not in direct musical lineage - are always present.

The society’s releases are kept simple. There are no notes but brief running track details, and original LP and recording information are provided.

Doráti and the Stockholm Philharmonic make a characteristically fine pairing in the comfortable surroundings of the city’s concert hall, the Konserthuset. There was a tiny blip/dropout at 13:30 in my copy of the Blomdahl but it was over in an instant. It’s good to have the previously reissued RCA component judiciously joined by the Pettersson in this attractive release.

Jonathan Woolf

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