Notes and Editorial Reviews
A MusicWeb International Recording of the Month
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 he 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?
– MusicWeb Internatioanl