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Englund: The Great Wall Of China, Symphonies No 4 & 5 / Klas


Release Date: 05/22/2001 
Label:  Ondine   Catalog #: 961   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sven Einar Englund
Conductor:  Eri Klas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Einar Englund's incidental music to The Great Wall of China will delight and astonish music lovers looking for a refreshing new experience. Its eight brief numbers include, aside from the usual Chinoiserie (signaled by plenty of gong strokes), a delicious Rumba, a bluesy Jazz-intermezzo, and best of all, an absolute scream of a March à la Shostakovich, which makes musical mincemeat out of the finale of that great composer's Ninth Symphony by applying to it the same over-the-top parody techniques familiar from his early, Socialist Realist ballets (The Age of Gold, The Bolt, and The Limpid Stream). A more immediately appealing, witty, masterfully crafted score hasn't come my way in many a
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Englund's Fifth Symphony, while written in a much more serious vein (the composer claimed that the work embodies memories of the Second World War), stands as the most impressive single-movement work of its type since Sibelius' Seventh. While written from an entirely different stylistic perspective, the piece has a similar organic coherence, every note growing inexorably out of the instantly memorable opening melodic gestures. Englund effortlessly sustains the music's intensity without ever overdoing the orchestral violence, and the elegiac ending arrives with the inevitability of fate. How is it that we have had to wait so long for this first recording?

The Fourth Symphony, on the other hand, already has enjoyed two previous outings on disc, though this new version eclipses them all. The clock sounds of its mechanical second movement, marked "Tempus fugit" (Time Flies), simultaneously recall Shostakovich (in the strings and percussion scoring), Penderecki (in the music's machine-tooled precision), and Bartók, without really sounding like anyone other than Englund himself. This marvelous score richly deserves all the exposure it can get, and not only do Eri Klas and the Tampere Philharmonic offer performances as gripping, cogent, and virtuosic as the music ideally demands (and make no mistake, Englund was one of the 20th century's masters at writing for orchestra), Ondine has captured them in stunningly realistic, impactful sound. Don't miss this extraordinary recording by any means!

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 4 "Nostalgic" by Sven Einar Englund
Conductor:  Eri Klas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; Finland 
Date of Recording: 2000 
Venue:  Tempere Hall, Finland 
Length: 25 Minutes 18 Secs. 
2. Symphony no 5 "Fennica" by Sven Einar Englund
Conductor:  Eri Klas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; Finland 
Date of Recording: 2000 
Venue:  Tampere Hall, Finland 
Length: 18 Minutes 45 Secs. 
3. The Great Wall of China by Sven Einar Englund
Conductor:  Eri Klas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; Finland 
Date of Recording: 2000 
Venue:  Tampere Hall, Finland 
Length: 20 Minutes 8 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 4, "Nostalgic": I. Prelude: Adagio
Symphony No. 4, "Nostalgic": II. Tempus fugit: Allegro assai
Symphony No. 4, "Nostalgic": III. Nostalgia: Andante
Symphony No. 4, "Nostalgic": IV. Intermezzo: Allegretto grazioso - Epilogue: Adagio
Symphony No. 5, "Fennica"
The Great Wall of China Suite: I. Ouvertura
The Great Wall of China Suite: II. Masquerade in a Chinese Garden
The Great Wall of China Suite: III. Inquisition
The Great Wall of China Suite: IV. Rumba
The Great Wall of China Suite: V. Green Table Tango
The Great Wall of China Suite: VI. March a la Shostakovich
The Great Wall of China Suite: VII. Jazz-intermezzo
The Great Wall of China Suite: VIII. Finale - Polonaise

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