Swedish Romantics: Pieces for Piano & Orchestra

Ludvig Norman's musical talent was obvious already in his younger teenage. He studied music theory with the composer Adolf Fredrik Lindblad, and piano with the Dutch-born pianist Jan van Boom. The concert piece for Piano and orchestra was composed in 1850 while studying in Leipzig. One can certainly hear the impression the 19 year old Norman got from Robert Schumann, but yet we meet a young, promising Swedish composer who is skilful at instrumentation with a sure sense of form.

Ture Rangström's music can be characterized as dramatic and suggestive with wide contrasts. He is absolutely one of the most original Swedish composers of all time. The Ballad for piano and orchestra was composed in 10 days in the origial key of F minor but was never performed in this version. 28 years later he revised it and transponded it to E minor and made rather major alterations. How much we don't know as the original score has not been found, maybe distroyed by the composers himself.

Adolf Wiklund studied in Stockholm and got a degree as an organist and also took lessons in composition and Piano. After some 9 years in Paris and Berlin he moved back to Stockholm where he became conductor of the Royal Opera. His Concert piece for piano and orchestra has Opus 1 and was composed in his first year abroad. The detailed and virtuosic piano part with extensive cascades of chordal figurations disclose that Wiklund was himself a brilliant pianist.

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Sterling’s devotion to the unsung composer, particularly Scandinavians, over a number of decades is remarkable. Ludvig Norman was the successor to Franz Berwald as the most prominent Swedish composer of his era. He studied, as so many did, in Leipzig, and attracted the attention of Robert Schumann. That Schumann attracted Norman, there is no doubt, as this work is suffused with the atmosphere of the Schumann concerto. For me, it is the pick of the three works, lots of good melodies, though not as virtuosic as one might imagine for a work of its name.

Ture Rangström studied in Berlin with Hans Pfitzner, and was among the first Swedish composers to absorb modernist elements into his music. This Ballad was written at the same time as his breakthrough symphonic poem, Dithyramb, and revised much later, though to what extent is not known. At times, I hear echoes of Rachmaninov, though without the same degree of romantic passion.

Adolf Wiklund was better known in Sweden and Europe as a conductor and pianist, and composed relatively few works. This was his first publicly performed and published piece, and shows a good degree of maturity. There are plenty of fireworks in the solo part, not surprising given that he was the performer at its premiere. The notes suggest that his influences were Brahms and Debussy; the former is certainly present here, along with Tchaikovsky.

Sound quality is very natural, and the notes are all one could hope for. David Barker, MusicWeb

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