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Norwegian Romantics: Eyvind Alnæs Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2



This recording is released on Hybrid Super Audio CD (SACD) format. SACD provides the precision of digital technology while retaining the warmth of analog sound.

Eyvind Alnæs' place in the history of Norwegian music has first and foremost been secured by his many beautiful songs. The two symphonies presented to a modern audience for the first time on this disc will compel us to re-evaluating our image of the composer.

Norwegian Romantics: Eyvind Alnæs Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2


Unavoidably, for the time and place, Eyvind Alnæs looked to the model established by Tchaikovsky, and in particular the Fourth with which it shares definite thematic similarities. The music’s physiognomy also takes in elements of Tchaikovsky’s orchestration, notably lower strings and horns, though the heavy Iberian-sounding theme in the first movement is a novelty. The notes claim that the Adagio is ‘perhaps the most beautiful slow movement ever written by a Nordic composer’ and that’s some claim, though the strategically employed ‘perhaps’ saves me from pointing out several I’d place higher. Notwithstanding this, it does have a distinctive melancholic colour, and a very beautiful string tune that is attuned strongly to Nordic-Russian sensibility. This symphonic confidence leads into a finale that enshrines an insistent March theme, sturdy, and striding onward very much like his exemplar to a triumphant close. It’s clear that the Second Symphony is strongly characterised on a movement-by-movement basis but as to whether, or how well, it hangs together is a different question. Alnæs seems to conjure up the Ride of the Valkyries for his finale though it seems it’s more a Halling motif, and this encoded folkloric element gets progressively jollier, infusing the music with roistering élan. The notes are characteristically first class and so too are the performances. Both these symphonies are highly enjoyable, though the First is the more structurally convincing achievement. Jonathan Woolf,