Classical CD stocking fillers – 3

Naxos’s ‘Complete Symphonies, Suites and Rhapsodies of Hugo Alfvén’ (Naxos 8.507015, 7 cds, c£31.00) features music that defines the bracing Norwegian landscape more often than not with echoes of Grieg, Sibelius and Nielsen in tow. Niklas Willén has the music well and truly under his belt (including five sizeable symphonies, the Second and Fifth exceeding the 50-minute mark), the capable Orchestras in his charge, the RSNO, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. My advice would be to head in the first instance for two little-known, single movement masterpieces, A Legend of the Skerries and ‘Andante Religioso’, the latter an ideal candidate for radio producers or presenters (whether in London or Salford) in search of a winning ‘quiet moment’. Alfvén wrote three Swedish Rhapsodies, the most popular by far being the First, or ‘Midsummer Vigil’. Fear not if you comb the set’s contents and at a first glance can’t find it: turn to the seventh ‘bonus’ disc or ‘Swedish Orchestral Favourites’, and there it is, safe and well, concluding the programme which also includes works by Söderman, Stenhammar, Larsson, Peterson-Berger, and Wirén. For this particular programme Okko Kamu conducts the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra. It’s delightful music that fits the season like a warming glove

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