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BERWALD Tone Poems

Reminiscence of the Norwegian Mountains: Symphonic Poem for Large Orchestra • Konzertstück for Bassoon and Orchestra • Wettlauf (Foot-Race): Etude for String Orchestra • Ernste und heitere Grillen (Serious and Joyful Fancies): Fantasiestück for Orchestra • Overture to Drottningen av Golconda (The Queen of Golconda) • Elfenspiel (Play of the Elves)

Gaevle Symphony Orchestra, Petri Sakari

Naxos 8.555370

Franz Berwald (1796-1868) is best known as a quirky symphonist (Capricieuse, Singulere etc) who was more quickly appreciated abroad before eventual recognition by his own dour countrymen. Richard Whitehouse traces his vicissitudes, and how for much of the time he earned his living running an orthopedic clinic and directing a glassworks and a sawmill.

This is a delightful collection of his lesser known works. Bassonists get few opportunities to play concertos; Berwald's should certainly figure in any discussions - meanwhile this sprightly Konzertstück is here to tempt concert and radio programmers. Berwald is a skilled orchestrator and Reminiscence of the Norwegian Mountains, Foot-Race and Serious and Joyful Fancies and the Mendelssohnian Play of the Elves are all individual and engrossing.

A splendid pendant to the (now) better known Sinfonie singuliere and its companions, well played and recorded by one of Sweden's oldest provincial orchestras. A recommendable Naxos bargain.

© Peter Grahame Woolf