Magazine article Gramophone

Alfven: 'Complete Symphonies, Vol 1'

Magazine article Gramophone

Alfven: 'Complete Symphonies, Vol 1'

Article excerpt


'Complete Symphonies, Vol 1'

Symphony No 1, Op 7. Drapa, Op 27.

Midsommarvaka, Op 19

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berin /tukasz Borowicz

CPO (F) CP0555 043-2 (64' * DDD)

Hugo Alfven regarded his Symphony No 1 (1896) as the first 'written in the Swedish language'. As vague a concept as that is to grapple with, I would question it on the evidence of the first movement's characteristic two-note diving figure, which extends a tradition for similar descending two-note motifs reflective of spoken Swedish evident from symphonies by Berwald and others. Alfven's work has a Nordic sense of raw fortitude, fatalism and hard labour but is otherwise pretty well behaved--establishment Stockholm to Kurt Atterberg's more real, muddy-booted Gothenburg, you could say.

The symphony is a decent listen. It gets a little tied up in the closing pages of its otherwise clearly argued opening Allegi-o; the Andante is at its best when it breaks momentarily free from formal symphonic shackles; the Scherzo revels deliciously in that very formality and the finale is a true and impressive culmination that maintains momentum through varied shifts in scenery. …

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