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Symphony 3

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Audio CD, March 14, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

The main interest here is the symphony, regarded in Sweden as Peterson-Berger's orchestral masterpiece. His first two symphonies (also in this CPO Norrköping SO series) don't really convince, though there are plenty of attractive ideas in the nonetheless overblown Symphony No. 2. A counterpart to Vaughan Williams's later Sinfonia Antarctica, the third symphony (composed between 1913 and 1915) graphically depicts the wilderness of Lapland in all its seasonal moods, as outlined by Peterson-Berger in his own notes, reproduced here. Grieg was clearly an influence; maybe also Glazunov in his sunniest mood. There are plenty of memorable melodies and imaginative touches, such as the prominent use of the piano in the first movement (reminiscent at times of de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain, composed at almost exactly the same time) and the incorporation of several Lapp chants, or jojks. OK, so this is a work that never set out to alter the course of 20th-century musical thinking, but so what? You won't be disappointed. The symphony's main companion here, the Earina Suite, charmingly celebrates the northern spring. Performances and sound do the works full justice. And despite any reservations about the other two symphonies, the accompanying items on the respective CDs (such as the impassioned Romance for Violin and Orchestra) are worth exploring. --Andrew Green

1. Symphony No. 3 in F major ('Same-Ätnam' or 'Lapland'): Allegro moderato
2. Symphony No. 3 in F major ('Same-Ätnam' or 'Lapland'): Moderato
3. Symphony No. 3 in F major ('Same-Ätnam' or 'Lapland'): Tranquillo
4. Symphony No. 3 in F major ('Same-Ätnam' or 'Lapland'): Moderato
5. Earina Suite for orchestra: Åkallan [Invocation]
6. Earina Suite for orchestra: Blomsteroffret [The Flower Offering]
7. Earina Suite for orchestra: Vapenvigning [The Consecration of Weapons]
8. Earina Suite for orchestra: Lyckorunor [Runes of Fortune]
9. Earina Suite for orchestra: Rapsoden sjunger [The Rhapsodidt sings]
10. Domedagsprofeterna (The Doomsday Prophets): Chorale and Fugue 'Andante - Con moto'

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 14, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Alliance
  • Run Time: 71 minutes
  • ASIN: B00004R8E1
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,687 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. E on September 5, 2002
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Cast your mind back to how you felt upon first listening to any of Sibelius's more "Northern" works--En Saga or Symphony No. 4, for instance--and you'll have an idea of the wonderful sense of discovery waiting for you in Peterson-Berger's Third. This is not to say that P-B was copying Sibelius, for he has his own voice, I believe, within the late Romantic idiom, but they both share a love for the starkness of the sublime, a love they both communicate superbly through their music. The other two pieces on this disc, though overshadowed by the impact of the symphony, would by themselves make the CD worth buying. What more can one say, other than to hope that cpo continues to record the rest of P-B's works?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas F. Bertonneau on October 22, 2000
An opera, "Arnljot," propelled Vilhelm Peterson-Berger (1867-1942) into national prominence in 1909 and holds the stage - only in Sweden, of course - to this day. Every educated Swede knows its Act I tenor aria for the eponymous hero, "Alltjämt de mäktiga fjäll sig välva" ("Eternally do the mighty mountains tower"). Peterson-Berger, a Wagnerian, a Nietzschean, a Neo-Romantic of the hyperbolic disposition, loved the rugged nature of Sweden, and celebrated it inveterately not only in his music-dramas but in his orchestral music as well, including his five symphonies. The best known of these, the Third (1915), in F-Major, explores the extreme North of Sweden, the area within the Arctic Circle populated by the Lapps and called, in the Lapp tongue, "Same Ätnam," from which stems the travelogue-title of the symphony. (The composer was born in remote Ångermanland, in the North of Sweden, the true "Land of the Midnight Sun.") The Lapps practice a tradition of improvisatory vocalise, "Joiking," and Peterson-Berger incorporates a number of "Joik" melodies in his score. American listeners will likely remain unaware of what to Swedes seems a quaint form of exoticism, the equivalent of Edwardian British interest in Hebridean folksong or of Ernest Bloch's interest in Dakota-Sioux war-chants. Which is not to chide this fine, late-Romantic symphony in distinctly Nordic accents for any faults; it is, in fact, a superb example of Peterson-Berger's considerable art.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G.D. VINE VOICE on March 10, 2010
Wilhelm Peterson-Berger belongs to what must be termed the golden age of Swedish music - indeed, he was one of the instigators - seeking to combine a late romantic musical language inspired by Wagner with Swedish folk music as treated by e.g. Söderman; think, perhaps, a mixture of Wagner and Grieg and you are on the right track, especially if you add a hint of Vaughan Williams and Glazunov. And while he might not be the most prominent or distinguished or original among this group of composers (that honor does, presumably, go to Stenhammar), this is still a wonderful disc of delectable music, with performances and a recorded sound to match.

The music is indeed romantic and eclectic, but it is very effectively put together and sports some superb themes. The work dates from 1913-15 and is, while not very forward-looking, not really radically conservative for its day either, even if it belongs firmly in the late romantic tradition. It is inspired by the geography of Lapland, and is a thoroughly atmospheric piece of colorful nature writing, stirringly, wistfully melodic, wonderfully scored, with a wonderful ebb and flow to it. The Norrköping symphony orchestra clearly enjoys themselves, providing truly world-class playing under the spirited direction of Michail Jurowski.

The Earina suite is charming and memorably tuneful and as well played as the symphony - a colorfully attractive work that deserves at least to be excerpted in the concert hall on occasions. The Choral and Fugue from the opera "the Doomsday Prophets' is unfortunately not in the same league, being somewhat aimless and shapeless (there is a disc of excerpts from this opera on a Sterling release, and I have to admit that it is a work for strictly for ardent followers and specialists).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Trtek on November 29, 2012
Of the five symphonies of Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, this is the only one that I found to be a keeper, and a really engaging keeper it turned out to be. To be honest, I thought the other four were pleasant but ultimately not terribly interesting works, but this one has some textures and aspects that drew me in right away. It contains gentle hints of Sibelius on occasion. Certainly, the music is evocative of the Nordic environment: Light fluttering off the ice, grayish glows at the horizon, and barren yet electric stretches of land marked by distant crags. Here and there the music is punctuated by occasional rustic accents evoking the spirit of Lapland, which is the symphony's subtitle. The Earina Suite, meanwhile, is a series of short string-dominated tone poems evoking the sense of spring,. Bringing up the tail of the program is a slowly building and ultimately compelling orchestral excerpt from one of the operas that Peterson-Berger wrote, The Doomsday Prophets. As I said at the beginning, I found the other discs in this symphonic set to be amiable but not equal to this one, and if you're going to start by dipping just a toe into the composer's output, this is to my mind definitely the place to start. The music is intriguing, interesting and well-played.
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