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Berwald: Septet, Serenade, Piano Quartet / Arion Quintet

Release Date: 12/01/1997 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 940248   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Berwald
Performer:  Philip FosterRolf HällströmAnders ModighMikael Björk,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arion Wind QuintetSchein String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

With six other current recordings of Berwald's Septet and three of the Quartet, these can no longer be regarded as obscure works. The exuberant septet was written when Berwald was 32. The Quartet of 1819 is a more youthful endeavor, but it is also an interesting work. The real "find" here is the Serenade for Tenor, Clarinet, Horn, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, and Piano of 1825, which I haven't heard before this.

The Septet's three movements show just how advanced Berwald was as a composer. Each displays characteristics more typical of later German Romanticism than what we might expect from Sweden in the 1820s. It is a delicious piece from start to finish. Modeled on Beethoven's similarly scored septet, it is a worthy
Read more successor to that joyous piece. The Piano Quartet lacks some of the later work's ingenuity, but it is always pleasing to the ear. The opening movement is as long as the two that follow, but Berwald uses the time to artfully develop his themes. The Adagio is almost operatic in its development, while the finale gradually builds momentum to a rousing conclusion.

The Serenade, almost a quarter hour in length, is compared to a miniature opera buffa scene in the notes the tenor sings of his love for a beautiful woman. He sings of his potential valor and how it comes to naught in the presence of his love, which conquers him completely. There is a fairly lengthy instrumental introduction that gives way to the tenor's three stanzas. There is virtuoso writing for various of the instruments between the verses. The whole is a total delight that anyone seriously interested in Berwald will want to have.

The Septet and Quartet are not terribly well played by the Consortium Classicum (Fanfare 13:2), but the recording by the Gaudier Ensemble (Fanfare 20:2) is easily recommended. I concur with those reviews, but would also mention the fine Eva Knardahl/BIS disc of the Quartet and the Musica Sveciae of the Septet by the augmented Lysell Quartet. While the Gaudier remains my absolute first choice in this music, these young Swedes on Naxos play well and can easily be recommended at the Naxos price. I would want this disc no matter what for the delightful Serenade, which is well worth having. For Berwald fans it is requisite. Good sound and admirable notes.

-- John Bauman, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Septet for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass in B flat major "Grand" by Franz Berwald
Performer:  Philip Foster (French Horn), Rolf Hällström (Bassoon), Anders Modigh (Cello),
Mikael Björk (Double Bass), Staffan Schein (Violin), Joel Sundin (Viola),
Lars Hjelm (Clarinet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arion Wind Quintet,  Schein String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1828; Sweden 
Date of Recording: 1995 
Serenade in F major by Franz Berwald
Performer:  Joel Sundin (Viola), Anders Modigh (Cello), Mikael Björk (Double Bass),
Thomas Annmo (Tenor), Joakim Kallhed (Piano), Lars Hjelm (Clarinet),
Philip Foster (French Horn)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arion Wind Quintet,  Schein String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825; Sweden 
Date of Recording: 1995 
Language: Swedish 
Quartet for Piano and Winds in E flat major by Franz Berwald
Performer:  Rolf Hällström (Bassoon), Philip Foster (French Horn), Joakim Kallhed (Piano),
Lars Hjelm (Clarinet)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arion Wind Quintet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Sweden 
Date of Recording: 1995 

Sound Samples

Septet in B flat major: I. Adagio: Allegro molto
Septet in B flat major: II. Poco adagio - Prestissimo - Adagio
Septet in B flat major: III. Finale: Allegro con spirito
Piano Quartet in E flat major: I. Adagio: Allegro ma non troppo
Piano Quartet in E flat major: II. Adagio
Piano Quartet in E flat major: III. Allegro

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