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Hugo Alfven: Symphonies Nos. 1-5; Swedish Rhapsodies [Box Set] Box set

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

Review

The orchestral playing under Neeme Jarvi is very responsive indeed…this recording is eminently persuasive and beautifully balanced with detail which is perfectly placed and plenty of air round the sound… In the touching 'Elegy' from Gustav II Adolf, perhaps his most affecting and deeply felt piece, Jarvi is at his most persuasive and gets marvellously responsive and committed playing from the Stockholm orchestra. --Gramophone

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Swedish Rhapsody No. 2, for orchestra ('Uppsalarapsodi'), Op. 24
  2. Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 7, R24: 1. Grave - Allegro con brio
  3. Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 7, R24: 2. Andante
  4. Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 7, R24: 3. Allegro, molto scherzando
  5. Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 7, R24: 4. Allegro, ma non troppo
  6. Drapa, for orchestra ('In Memoriam King Oscar II'), Op. 27, R62
  7. Revelation, cantata for bass, baritone, chorus & orchestra, Op. 31, R80: Andante religioso

Disc: 2

  1. Swedish Rhapsody No. 1, for orchestra ('Midsommarvaka'), Op. 19
  2. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 11, R28: 1. Moderato
  3. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 11, R28: 2. Andante
  4. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 11, R28: 3. Allegro
  5. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 11, R28: 4. Preludio: Adagio
  6. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 11, R28: Fuga: Allegro energico

Disc: 3

  1. Swedish Rhapsody No. 3, for orchestra ('Dalarapsodi'), Op. 47
  2. Symphony No. 3 in E major, Op. 23, R54: 1. Allegro con brio
  3. Symphony No. 3 in E major, Op. 23, R54: 2. Andante
  4. Symphony No. 3 in E major, Op. 23, R54: 3. Presto
  5. Symphony No. 3 in E major, Op. 23, R54: 4. Allegro con brio
  6. Prodigal Son, ballet suite, R214: Gånglåt från Leksand - Sonens gånglåt
  7. Prodigal Son, ballet suite, R214: Polska från Orsa
  8. Prodigal Son, ballet suite, R214: Drottningens av Saba festmarsch
  9. Prodigal Son, ballet suite, R214: Polketta
  10. Prodigal Son, ballet suite, R214: Steklåt
  11. Prodigal Son, ballet suite, R214: Polka
  12. Prodigal Son, ballet suite, R214: Final

Disc: 4

  1. En Skärgårdssägen, for orchestra, Op. 20, R49
  2. Symphony No. 4 in C minor ('Fran Havsbandet'), Op. 39, R93

Disc: 5

  1. Bergakungen, ballet-pantomime, Op. 37, R99: Besvärjelse (Invocation)
  2. Bergakungen, ballet-pantomime, Op. 37, R99: Trollflickans dans (Sorceress's Dance)
  3. Bergakungen, ballet-pantomime, Op. 37, R99: Sommarregn (Summer Rain)
  4. Bergakungen, ballet-pantomime, Op. 37, R99: Vallflickans dans (Herdmaiden's Dance)
  5. Symphony No. 5 in A minor, Op. 54, R209: 1. Lento - Allegro non troppo
  6. Symphony No. 5 in A minor, Op. 54, R209: 2. Andante
  7. Symphony No. 5 in A minor, Op. 54, R209: 3. Lento - Allegro - Presto molto agitato
  8. Symphony No. 5 in A minor, Op. 54, R209: 4. Finale: Allegro con brio
  9. Gustav Adolf II, suite from the incidental music for orchestra, Op. 49, R121: Elegy


Product Details

  • Performer: Christina Hogman, Claes-Hakan Ahnsjo
  • Conductor: Neeme Jarvi
  • Composer: Hugo Alfven
  • Audio CD (October 25, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Brilliant Classics
  • ASIN: B001716JR4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,531 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William Thon on July 21, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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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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.
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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 merely because of the era in which he lived? Possibly he was after his time. Nevertheless, I would recommend to any fan of Romantic music that they get familiar with the works of Alfven, pronto. This collection is a wonderful way to do it.
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This is the same as the BIS recording, Brilliant has packaged it for wider distribution. Järvi does a beautiful job conducting.

A number of the works are 3-10 minute pieces featuring strings with just the odd wind instrument. Then there are all the symphonies. Some rather standard, some reminding us of Strauss or Sibelius. The fourth is in one movement. There is also a ballet pantomime.

The music is from the late 1800s to the 1900s. Alfven certainly has classical influences. For comparison, some Sibelius works soumd quite modernist. The Alfven works are more comparable in style to Grieg. He produced a large volume of orchestral works. Inspiration is sometimes the Swedish pastoral scene and some folk tunes. Imagine a Midsummer fest.

It is not music that may strike you initially as astounding, but well crafted work. Probably my favorite Nordic composer after Sibelius. Nielsen was more challenging and may become something I like in the long run. Grieg only wrote one symphony. Alfven is easy to get into in a casual way. If you like the classic era, you will like this. I believe he is labeled as Romantic (national romantic).
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