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Wilhelm Stenhammar: Symphonies And Piano Concertos

Stenhammar / Derwinger / Mmso / Gso / Jarvi
Release Date: 06/28/2011 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94238   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Wilhelm Stenhammar
Performer:  Peter MatteiUlf WallinLove DerwingerCristina Ortiz
Conductor:  Neeme JärviPaavo Järvi
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 50 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The accustomed romantic idiom inflamed with Swedish folk voices - a sensational bargain.

When reviewing the 4 CD Bis set from which this is drawn I said that it was a sensational bargain. Well that’s even more the case with this issue pruned of the Serenade and some other lyric pieces and concentrating on his big orchestral statements. In the place of the original notes we have an excellent and extended essay by Malcolm Macdonald. Brilliant have not stinted on the documentation.

The performances and recorded sound are never less than very good indeed. In particular the readings of the Second Symphony, piano concertos and Lodolezzi Sings are supple, galvanic, generous-hearted and fiery. Even so I
Read more am not shaken from my first love and allegiance in the Second Symphony – the Caprice recording made in the 1970s by Westerberg.

The two symphonies have been taken from concerts complete with the odd moment of 'audience participation' and with applause. The Second Symphony has had more limelight than the First. It reminds me of the folksy Brahms or Dvorák yet with a distinct Scandinavian atmosphere I would not claim for the more generic-riomantic First. I doubt that anyone has ever matched Järvi's boiling intensity in the first movement. Dvorák's Eighth Symphony is an unmistakable presence in the second. There are moments in this virile and rhythmic symphony where the work seemed to be a sort of nineteenth century doppelgänger of the Moeran Symphony. If you must have a studio recording then by all means go for Järvi in his DG version or the reputedly less well recorded Naxos with the RSNO conducted by Petter Sundkvist (Naxos 8.553888). The strongest contender all round is - as I say - the classic ADD recording of the Stockholm PO conducted by the once ubiquitous Stig Westerberg on Caprice CAP 21151.

The First Symphony touches on Schumann and, just occasionally Berlioz. Although Stenhammar claimed that it was influenced by Bruckner it is rather too relaxed for that parallel to be entirely convincing though the rustic chivalry of Bruckner 4 and 6 is picked up on in the finale. The work is charmingly discursive but lacking in Brucknerian tension and storm clouds.

Peter Mattei handles the songful Florez and Blanzeflor (a chivalric tale) with suave tone. Midvinter proceeds along the same tracks as Alfvén's Swedish Rhapsodies while the low key Sentimental Romances are handled with undemonstrative aplomb by Ulf Wallin. These Romances would couple well with the willowy and undramatic pastels of Sibelius's Two Serenades.

The two piano concertos occupy disc 3. The epic First Piano Concerto stands stylistically between the Grieg and Brahms 2 (listen to the start of the third movement with its rustic nationalist lilt) imposing similar demands on soloist and orchestra. This is strong and sturdy with very fine inspirational writing in line with the Stanford Second Concerto and the Bortkiewicz concertos. The Second is also Brahmsian but blended with early Rachmaninov. Though still obviously romantic it sounds more 'modern' with the sort of art nouveau decorative caprice to be found in the salon charmers of Alfred Hill, Frank Hutchens, Greville Cooke and Harry Farjeon. It too is in four movements. Ortiz and Derwinger are able advocates. Perhaps Ortiz makes more of her chances than Derwinger though both are very good indeed.

The sound overall is transparent and refined with plenty of impact. Even the analogue tape of the First Symphony sounds good and audience participation in the two live recordings is neither extensive nor distracting.

Do go for this set if you long to hear a late-nineteenth century romantic ploughing a delightfully Scandinavian furrow.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in F major by Wilhelm Stenhammar
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902-1903; Sweden 
Date of Recording: 09/24/1982 
Venue:  Live  Gothenburg Concert Hall, Sweden 
Length: 53 Minutes 28 Secs. 
2.
Lodolezzi sjunger, suite from the incidental music, Op. 39 by Wilhelm Stenhammar
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Period: Romantic 
Length: 3 Minutes 27 Secs. 
3.
The Song, cantata, Op. 44: Interlude: Molto adagio, solenne' by Wilhelm Stenhammar
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1921 
Length: 4 Minutes 31 Secs. 
4.
Symphony no 2 in G minor, Op. 34 by Wilhelm Stenhammar
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911-1915; Sweden 
Date of Recording: 09/16/1983 
Venue:  Live  Gothenburg Concert Hall, Sweden 
Length: 43 Minutes 36 Secs. 
5.
Midwinter, Op. 24 by Wilhelm Stenhammar
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; Florence, Italy 
Length: 12 Minutes 39 Secs. 
6.
Florez and Blanzeflor, Op. 3 by Wilhelm Stenhammar
Performer:  Peter Mattei ()
Conductor:  Paavo Järvi
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Sweden 
Length: 8 Minutes 33 Secs. 
7.
Sentimental Romances (2) for violin & orchestra, Op. 28 by Wilhelm Stenhammar
Performer:  Ulf Wallin (Violin)
Conductor:  Paavo Järvi
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1910 
Length: 13 Minutes 16 Secs. 
8.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 1 by Wilhelm Stenhammar
Performer:  Love Derwinger (Piano)
Conductor:  Paavo Järvi
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Sweden 
Date of Recording: 06/1992 
Venue:  Malmo Concert Hall, Swenen 
Length: 45 Minutes 31 Secs. 
9.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in D minor, Op. 23 by Wilhelm Stenhammar
Performer:  Cristina Ortiz (Piano)
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904-1907; Sweden 
Date of Recording: 05/1989 
Venue:  Gothenburg Concert Hall, Sweden 
Length: 28 Minutes 35 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Looking for a "new"composer? Meet Wilhelmina Ste April 11, 2013 By Jean M. (Oakland, CA) See All My Reviews "I had never heard of Wilhelm Stenhammar until our local orchestra performed his second symphony. I wanted to get a copy to listen to later. At that time it wasn't easy to find. I'm glad to find that ArkivMusic now has several CDs of his music. This is great. Buy this set and find that great music also comes from Sweden, not just Italy, Germany, and France." Report Abuse
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