Sunday, April 9, 2017

Franz Berwald - Tone Poems (Petri Sakari)


Composer: Franz Berwald
  1. Reminiscence of the Norwegian Mountains
  2. Konzertstück for Bassoon and Orchestra
  3. Wettlauf (Racing)
  4. Ernste und heitere Grillen (Serious and Joyful Fancies)
  5. Overture to Drottningen av Golconda (The Queen of Golconda)
  6. Elfenspiel (Play of the Elves)

Patrik Håkansson, bassoon (2)
Gävle Symphony Orchestra
Petri Sakari, conductor

Date: 2005
Label: Naxos




Franz Berwald’s four symphonies are becoming better known, but the shorter orchestral works hardly receive a mention, even though they are no less deserving. Though conservative in style (what can you expect from a composer born in 1796?), they belong to no particular “school” but have a distinctly Nordic quality thanks to Berwald’s fresh feeling for harmony and attractive woodwind writing. This comes through quite clearly in Reminiscence of the Norwegian Mountains, a lovely pastoral portrait in tones, and in Elfenspiel. Wetlauf (Foot-Race), subtitled “Etude for String Orchestra”, must rank among the more imaginative early works in the medium–but then all of this music is well worth hearing.

These performances under Petri Sakari, with the Gävle Symphony in very good form, are a touch slower in tempo (with the exception of Wetlauf, aptly enough) than the main competition, the spottily available versions under Ulf Björlin on EMI, but not significantly so, and they are much better recorded. More importantly, Sakari and the orchestra offer freshly sprung rhythms, so important in this music, and the woodwinds play with the necessary liveliness and character in the pieces for full orchestra. Patrik Hakansson also gives a worthy account as soloist in the charming Konzertstück for Bassoon and Orchestra. In short, if you already know and like the symphonies, this inexpensive disc offers an excellent way to fill out your Berwald collection. It’s good stuff, plain and simple. [9/14/2005]

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:


Franz Berwald (23 July 1796 – 3 April 1868) was a Swedish Romantic composer. Berwald's music was not recognised favourably in Sweden during his lifetime, even drawing hostile newspaper reviews, but fared a little better in Germany and Austria. He made his living as an orthopedic surgeon and later as the manager of a saw mill and glass factory. Among four symphonies, his best known works, the first was the only one that was performed in his lifetime. His Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major, "Naïve", was premiered in 1878, ten years after Berwald's death.


Petri Sakari (born 25 November 1958 in Helsinki ) is a Finnish violinist and conductor. He studied at the Tampere Conservatory and graduated in conducting at the Sibelius Academy in 1981. He also attended seminars with Franco Ferrara in Siena and with Rafael Kubelik in Lucerne. From 1988 to 1993 he was Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, continuing as Principal Guest Conductor and returning as Chief Conductor from 1996 to 1998. From 2000 to 2004, he was Chief Conductor of the Gävle Symphony Orchestra.


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