Magazine article Gramophone

Third Disc of Svendsen from the Bergen Philharmonic

Magazine article Gramophone

Third Disc of Svendsen from the Bergen Philharmonic

Article excerpt

Svendsen

'Orchestral Works, Vol 3'

Norwegian Artists' Carnival, Op 14.

Violin Concerto, Op 6 (a). Two Icelandic Melodies.

Symphony No 1, Op 4

(a) Marianne Thorsen vn

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Neeme Jarvi

Chandos (F) CHAN10766 (74' * DDD)

The Chandos/Jarvi/Svendsen survey moves backwards to the late 1860s and early 1870s, when the newly Leipzig-graduated composer was travelling Europe to absorb its new music --especially Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner--and even flipping to America to get married to a Jewish lady (who would, however, soon convert to Christianity, overseen by her husband's new friends Richard and Cosima Wagner as godparents).

At this point in his career Svendsen's early-attained fluency in orchestration and embracing of new formal ideas had not outstripped his melodic invention. The Violin Concerto was completed in the same year, 1870, as the intriguing Cello Concerto featured in Vol 2 of this series (A/12). The violin's contribution, more obbligato than soloist proper, justifies both comparisons to Berlioz's Harold en Italie and the leader-only balance given to Marianne Thorsen. In an age where the orchestra was still standing back, Paganini concerto-style, to let the soloist have his way, Svendsen was rightly proud of doing something completely other. Also, as in the First Symphony, the slow movement is an event of Brahmsian emotional weight.

The symphony is often singled out for the italianita of its orchestration and sheer brio. …

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