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CHAN 10303
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CHAN 10303

Berwald: Symphony No.1/ Symphony No. 2

The Classical Shop
release date: April 2005

Originally recorded in 2004


Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Thomas Dausgaard


Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen


Chris Hazell


Jorn Jacobsen

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 66:05
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Select Complete Single Disc for
  Symphonies, Volume 2  

Sinfonie sérieuse (Symphony No. 1)

  in G minor - in g-Moll - en sol mineur  
1 I Allegro con energia 11:00
2 II Adagio maestoso 6:21
3 III Stretto - 5:37
4 IV Finale. Adagio - Allegro molto - 7:07

Erinnerung an die norwegischen Alpen

  Memory of the Norwegian Alps  
  Adagio - Andante - Tempo I - Andante -  

Sinfonie capricieuse (Symphony No. 2)

  in D major - in D-Dur - en ré majeur  
  Edited by Nils Castegren  
6 I Allegro 10:46
7 II Andante 6:20
8 III Allegro assai 10:42
Poor Berwald! A true, self-taught original, he had scant success during his lifetime in establishing himself as a composer, either in his native Sweden or in Europe, and after a disastrous performance of his Sinfonie sérieuse – it was woefully underrehearsed, rendering the ambitious work unintelligible to the audience – he never again heard any of his symphonies performed. In truth, the composer was decades ahead of his time. His fascinating music, with its unconventional harmonies and polyphonic textures’ anticipates the antiromantic attitude of a future age. Only in the last few years has he been acknowledged as the most important Swedish symphonic composer of his time.

Thomas Dausgaard is a conductor of international renown. Chief Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra/DR, he regularly guests with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras. He is regarded as one of the finest interpreters of Scandinavian music and his acclaimed discography on the Chandos label includes Symphony No. 6 by Per Nørgård, which was nominated for a Gramophone Award.

This is the second disc of music by Franz Berwald from the Danish National Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Dausgaard. The first, featuring Sinfonie singulière, Sinfonie naïve and Elfenspiel, was very well received.

"Berwald’s early works provoked strong criticism in conservative Stockholm. To escape the constricting atmosphere, Berwald decided to try his luck in Berlin. However, he failed to secure a single public performance and socially remained an outsider on account of his awkward personality. Artistically, though, his time in Berlin was fruitful – during his twelve-year stay there his musical language changed decisively towards a markedly contrapuntal idiom. This new style is exemplified by the orchestral works – four symphonies and six symphonic poems – he composed after a long silence (and, evidently, hard study) in a surge of creativity during just four years, from July 1841 to April 1845. The works on this disc date from this period.

Three of the tone poems from this time, including the Erinnerung an die norwegischen Alpen, were first performed in Vienna in 1842, exactly a year after Berwald had left Berlin. They received enthusiastic reviews and this success prompted Berwald to return to Stockholm. His luck was short-lived. The official acceptance of a two-act operetta by the Royal Theatre was repeatedly postponed, a concert aroused minimal interest, and the premiere of his Sinfonie sérieuse was a disaster – the director of the court orchestra (a cousin of Berwald’s) had allowed hardly any time for rehearsal. After this unhappy premiere, it seems that Berwald wanted to protect all his later symphonies from similarly inadequate performances and none of them was heard during his lifetime. It is uncertain whether Berwald ever wrote out a full score of the Sinfonie capricieuse – it only survives in short score draft. However, the symphony is virtually complete, for Berwald noted not only the layout of the parts but also countless details of instrumentation. Unusual in form, the symphony is quintessential Berwald, with its sharp-edged upbeats, offbeat accents and transparency of structure.

It is difficult to know why the music of Franz Berwald has never caught on in a big way. As a near-contemporary of Mendelssohn and Schumann, e was often more forward-looking that either, though his surviving body of work is much smaller. This conclusion to the Danish National Symphony Orchestra/DR’s cycle sets the seal on what is perhaps the finest of the lot, with playing that sparkles, and conducting from Thomas Dausgaard that captures both the energy and idiosyncrasies of Berwald’s creative imagination.
The Telegraph

What is of much greater moment is the excellence of the Danish orchestras response to this sparkling and original music which Dausgaard shapes with fine musical imagination… in short, quite the best Berwald disc we have had for some years.
BBC Music Magazine

…performed with startling precision by Dausgaard and the DNRSO…
The Observer

This is one of the finest Berwald recordings I have ever heard… easily recommendable to anyone still unsure about Berwald.
American Record Guide

Chandos now follows Thomas Dausgaard’s earlier accounts of the Singulière and the E flat symphonies with the remaining two both from 1842. The Capricieuse was discovered among Berwald’s papers in short score but with indications as to its orchestration. Duasgaard, like his rivals, uses the scholarly edition made by Niels Castegren (at one time head of music at Swedish Radio) and his fine reading makes an excellent case for this fascinating piece and its immediate predecessor, the Sinfonie sérieuse, the only one of the symphonies Berwald heard in his lifetime. Tempos are well judged throughout and the performances are full of character.
BBC Music Magazine

A Basegmezler

M Socarras