It's good to see Neeme Järvi back on Chandos, working in top form, and it's even better to see the label starting a new project that promises to be delightfully worthy of collectors' attention and true to its roots in interesting Romantic repertoire. As a composer, Johan Halvorsen (1864-1935) is seriously underestimated, largely because most of his orchestral music falls into the category of theater or "incidental" music. A good bit of it, and much else besides, has been recorded by Simax, but those discs may be difficult to find (and costly too). It is, in any case, often music of very high quality, as the suite from Mascarade (same story as Nielsen's opera) clearly reveals.
The First Symphony, which dates from the 1920s but could have been written three or four decades earlier, reveals Halvorsen's ties to the school of the Russian "Mighty Five". If you enjoy, say, Borodin's Second, then you're going to love this immaculately crafted, tuneful, and melodically memorable piece. The other three pieces are brief "pops" numbers, but no less attractive or well-made. In short, there's not a note here unworthy of your time and attention, even the tiny La Mélancolie, an arrangement of an earlier tune by Ole Bull. As already noted, Järvi is back to his old exciting, vigorous self, and the orchestra plays with total commitment and enthusiasm. Great sound too. A terrific release.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com