BERWALD Tone Poems. Reminiscence of the Norweigian Mountains, Foot-Race, Play of the Elves. Gaevle Symphony Orchestra / Petri Sakari. Naxos

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Berwald Tone Poems Reminiscence Of Symphony Orchestra Petri Sakari Naxos

Franz BERWALD (1796-1868)

Tone Poems

Reminiscence of the Norwegian Mountains: Symphonic Poem for Large Orchestra • Konzertstück for Bassoon and Orchestra • Wettlauf (Foot-Race): Etude for String Orchestra • Ernste und heitere Grillen (Serious and Joyful Fancies): Fantasiestück for Orchestra • Overture to Drottningen av Golconda (The Queen of Golconda) • Elfenspiel (Play of the Elves)

Gaevle Symphony Orchestra, Petri Sakari

Largely unappreciated during his lifetime, Berwald is today recognised as the outstanding Swedish composer of the 19th Century, whose greatest and most original contribution was to orchestral repertoire.

There are already Naxos recordings of all four symphonies (8553051 and 8553052), so these four rarely heard tone poems fill a gap in the catalogue. The works spann some 50 years of the composer’s creative life, and demonstrate Berwald’s gift for strikingly fresh ideas, unusual melodic patterns and daring harmonies.

Already famed for his first-rate Sibelius recordings on Naxos, Finnish conductor Petri Sakari leads the Gaevle Symphony Orchestra in gripping performances of these unusual works.

This disc of works by Swedish composer Franz Berwald (1796-1868) is a valuable addition to the recordings of symphonies and chamber music already in the Naxos catalogue. Listening to Reminiscence of the Norwegian Mountains or the overture to his romantic opera The Queen of Golconda immediately fixes Berwald's language as belonging to the same group as Weber's. Mendelssohn enters the vocabulary with the Elfenspiel, Berlioz with Wettlauf and Ernste und heitere Grillen; and the use of the tune of Home, Sweet Home as the basis of a set of variations in the delightful Konzertstück for bassoon testifies to the Europe-wide popularity that Sir Henry Bishop's song enjoyed in the 1820s.

There is nothing that could be described as specifically Swedish in this music. Indeed, for a major part of his life Berwald worked in Berlin and Vienna. But he absorbed the styles of other composers into a style that is fresh and endearing, and the playing here by one of the oldest Swedish orchestras transmits both its flavour and its sparkle.

Geoffrey Norris, Telegraph

Naxos 8555370

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