Hugo Alfven remains one of the best-loved of Swedish Romantic composers. He was especially drawn to the possibilities of the orchestra, and considered his first four symphonies to be his most important works, though he also described the first movement of the Fifth, with characteristic modesty, as 'the least bad thing I have written'. His music is distinguished by orchestral subtlety and by a painterly exploitation of harmony and timbre. Even the abstract works such as the symphonies are coloured by the water and light of the Swedish archipelago, but he also composed a set of Swedish Rhapsodies which are included here.
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
STOCKHOLM PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you have never heard Alfven's works - and chances are that you haven't - its time you did. The disk has his 5 symphonies, three rhapsodies and other works besides, and it is difficult to find a single movement of any work which is not a rich and enjoyable morsel.
Alfven is completely in the romantic tradition. But it would not be giving him his due to describe his music by way of his nationality. Grieg and Sibelius come through, but more beside. You will find Both Beethoven and Tchaikowsky here as well (and a dash of John Williams, Holst and Mahler when it comes to his use of brass, too).
It is hard to compare Jarvi to other renditions, since I haven't heard any - lets just say that on the surface, it feels to me like the pieces are played the way they were written to be played. There is a richness to the recording which I absolutely love.
My main takeaway from listening to Alfven's works is - why don't we know this composer better? Is it...
The symphonies, rhapsodies, and tone poems included in this set are ravishing, varied, dramatic and engaging. I only learned of this composer because of a Naxos recording I got of the second symphony (thank you Naxos for introducing me to many composers I had not known before!). This is late Romantic music, quite Scandinavian in sensibility (whatever I am trying to say - except I am thinking of Carl Nielsen, Sibelius and Grieg, among others). Alfven was an amazing orchestrator. Every section is written for to perfection and all get a chance to show off the qualities of their instruments. He especially does well with the woodwinds. I recommend this set (or any Alfven music) to anyone who enjoys accessible, dramatic, lush orchestral music that is more enjoyable than challenging.
What amazing symphonies and at an sweet price. I was in England last week and heard the Swedish 1 Rhapsody on Classic FM and had to buy it for my collection. What a surprise that this cd is 5 cd's and all of them absolutley wonderful. Romantic period at its best with crisp clean recordings and conducting by Jarve. Truly should be in your collection if you are a fan of Grieg or Sibelius you will enjoy these cd's.
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