Thursday, May 4, 2017

Svendsen, Johan Severin. (1840-1911) Symphonic Works. CD 2 & 3.

From my collection.
Bought in 2010.
First listen: CD 2) 1-3-2010. CD 3) 9-2-2010.
Second listen: CD 2 & 3) 4-5-2017.
Label: CPO.
CD 2 & 3 from 3.
Recording dates: September 1998 & April 1998.
Recording venue: Reformatu Baznica, Riga.
Recording engineer: Vilnis Kaksis.
Running time: 63:33 & 59:53.
Relevance to me: Worthwhile.

Works performed: 
Norwegian Artists Carnival, opus 14.
Romeo and Juliet, opus 18.
Carnival in Paris, opus 9.
Zorahayda, opus 11.
Festival Polonaise, opus 12.
Andante Funèbre.
Sigurd Slembe, opus 8.
Last year I was tending the Goats, opus 31.
Norwegian Rhapsodies No. 1-4. Opus 17/19/21/22.

Works performed by:
Latvian National SO, Terje Mikkelsen.

I hold the music of Johan Severin Svendsen in high esteem, and can affirm that I like most of his works enormously. So it is a nice treat to find many of his symphonic works on the box with 3 cd's.
Of all the works, I, of course have my favourites, which would be the opus 18 in which a totally different approach towards the Shakespearean play is unfolded as is done by Tchaikovsky. There is certainly no passion which will burn in your soul, but rather a charismatic Norwegian somewhat cooler descend into the passion of fatal love. Some fine writing in this piece. Opus 11 is a highlight on disc 2, in which Svendsen got everything in the right place, and in which one can detect a deeper notion of harmony and orchestral balance. There are many moments of great beauty, and ascending notes into the realm of heaven. The Andante Funèbre is a stand alone in his oeuvre, written after the dead of a musical talented youngster who died when he was 23. It is a very moving piece. Not unlike the Funeral march (1894) which Edvard Grieg wrote for his friend Rikard Nordraak. 
CD 3 holds my favourite pieces. The Norwegian Rhapsodies are by all means the closest to Norwegian Folk melodies. Svendsen excels in the scoring of all 4 of them, coming up with dazzling melodies, fine scoring for violins, and rhythmic novelties. They are in all respects rhythmically alert and attuned to each other.
Both the opus 8 and 31 are in themselves nice enough, very well shaped, transparent with fine dynamic gradations. 
So what keeps these performances away from a firm recommendation?
The performances are a tad rough and unsophisticated.  Refinement is the name of the game in Svendsen's music, and of this there is precious little. True enough there are moments of an inkling of orchestral refinement, but they are far and wide between. It is either too loud or too soft, and a real balance in dynamics is in most cases far away. Of course this is not ideal. The recorded balance is rather close, that does not help either, but probably the best thing to do is to say thank you for the music to the Latvians and enjoy. Detailing is good to very good, and the soundstage in all cases give reason for rejoicing. It is not the last answer as to these works. 


Graupner, Christoph. (1683-1760. Partitas for Harpsichord, Volume 4.

New acquisition. Date of purchase: July 2017. First listen: 21-7-2017. Label: Analekta. Recording dates: June 2004 Recording venue: ...