- Symphony No. 4 in C minor ("Fran Havsbandet"), Op. 39, R93
- Festival Overture, Op. 52
auto-inserted 09-17-2014 15:56:46
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Outside of Sweden, Hugo Alfvén's most popular works are his colorful "Swedish Rhapsodies" and a few other pieces of light music. His symphonies, however, have lagged behind, presumably because they are much more serious in tone, old-fashioned, and less outwardly appealing. More likely, as anyone who has heard them knows, they have not achieved wide popularity because of too few performances and only a smattering of good recordings. To remedy this, Naxos has launched a project with Niklas Willén and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra to record the symphonies and miscellaneous orchestral works, with the clear intention to make Alfvén's lush Romantic scores more available to non-Swedish listeners. The "Symphony No. 4, From the Outermost Skerries," is a lavish depiction of the Swedish seacoast, rich in plaintive melodies and evocative orchestration. Alfvén creates a series of tableaux that suggest the turbulent ocean and the haunted shoreline in a highly Romantic manner, comparable in some ways to the watery and windswept tone-painting of Vaughan Williams' "A Sea Symphony." Willén and his orchestra play with impressive storminess, and soprano Arndis Halla and tenor Johann Valdimarsson are eerily effective in their offstage vocalise parts. The "Festival Overture" is pleasantly rambunctious filler, but it obviates the subtle moods left by the "Symphony" and seems trivial in comparison.