It was in 1953, 65 years ago, that Herbert Blomstedt conducted the Gothenburg Symphony for the first time. Since then he has been back on numerous occasions, performing a wide range of works – only not those by Wilhelm Stenhammar. Blomstedt has told of how an international career gave him little opportunity to study and conduct Stenhammar’s music. At the age of 85, however, when he no longer had any obligations as a chief conductor, he thought ‘now or never’ and began to study the composer’s major scores in earnest. And when the time came to perform and record them, what other orchestra could he choose but the Gothenburg Symphony – Stenhammar’s ‘own’ orchestra which heRead more conducted between 1907 and 1922. The works on this album are possibly the finest orchestral music that Stenhammar composed and he gave the premières of both with the orchestra, Symphony No. 2 in 1915 and the revised version of the Serenade in 1920. In fact, he even dedicated the symphony to the members of the orchestra, his ‘dear friends’.
This is an outstanding disc which all lovers of the music of Wilhelm Stenhammar should hear. I think that both works are new to Herbert Blomstedt’s discography and I’m thrilled not only that he’s now recorded them but also that he’s given us performances of such distinction. And how fitting it is that the orchestra involved should be the Gothenburg Symphony, since Stenhammar was the orchestra’s principal conductor from 1907 to 1922; not only did they give the premiere of the Second Symphony but also Stenhammar dedicated it to the orchestra.
As usual with a BIS release, production values are high. As I’ve indicated already, the recorded sound is excellent and despite the long playing time of the disc I detected no diminution in sound quality. The notes by Tomas Block are very good. BIS have recycled the portion of his note dealing with the Serenade from the Lindberg disc but why not: the note is excellent so why reinvent the wheel?
Symphony no 2 in G minor, Op. 34by Wilhelm Stenhammar Conductor:
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1911-1915; Sweden
Serenade in F, Op. 31by Wilhelm Stenhammar Conductor:
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: Sweden
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Perfect match of conductior and repertoireMay 29, 2019By P. Monroe (Berkeley, CA)See All My Reviews"Blomstedt has been performing this music for decades, of course, and has recorded lots of Stenhammar. Both in the concert hall and on disc, he makes a strong case. A worthy find, especially is interested walking down less-traveled roads with Blomstedt, one of the great master conductors working today."Report Abuse
DisappointingFebruary 8, 2019By William K. (Fort Garland, CO)See All My Reviews"I was really looking forward to this new recording of Stenhammar 2, as I love the symphony, and also have been a great admirer of Blomstedt for many years. Even in his 80's he has produced some great performances. Unfortunately, however, this is not one of them. Everything is slow, and as a result the symphony trudges rather than exalts. As an example, the first movement in the new recording takes 13'19'' - it is marked 'Allegro energico'. My old recording (also on BIS) with Neeme Jarvi conducting, takes 11'02''. So, the new recording is basically 20% slower than the Jarvi, which is a LOT, meaning that there is little or no 'energico' in the new one I am afraid. The sound on the new recording (I listen in multichannel) is OK (rather than great); its just hard to hear the music as it should be given the above!"Report Abuse