Someone seems to have got their seasons mixed up – either that or I received this disc six months earlier than I should! Whatever, it amounts to a survey of Finlandia’s considerable output of Scandinavian repertoire, with Ari Rasilainen and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra well travelled in this attractive, if undemanding, music on this compilation.
A lot of the composers will be new names such as Ole Bull, whose sentimental The Shepherd Girl’s Sunday is second up and Hans Christian Lumbye, whose Concertpolka features violinist Harald Aadland taking centre stage. Finlandia have done much to promote the music of Oskar Merikanto, and his attractive Valse Lente is nicely done, arranged from the piano original by Nils-Eric Fougstedt.
Johan Svendsen is another that has enjoyed recording exposure from Rasilainen, and his Romance for solo violin and orchestra is his most popular work, given a light performance here from the violinist Atle Sponberg. This is one of three more substantial works on the disc, the other two coming from Sibelius and Delius – the latter Englishman included because of his Norwegian connections and friendship with Edvard Grieg. Listen out for the wonderful evocation of the cuckoo that Delius gives to the clarinet.
Two movements from Grieg’s neo-Baroque Holberg Suite are included, the brightand breezy Prelude leading to the more introspective Air. This is fine in principle, although I found myself wanting to hear the other three movements from the piece. The album’s title piece by Christian Sinding is also arranged from a piano original, and it opens thedisc – this interpretation from Rasilainen though is a bit too syrupy.
Towards the end it’s good to see figures such as Hugo Alfven and Kurt Atterberg enjoying more of the spotlight, and I would recommend exploring the symphonies of both composers if you like Grieg or Sibelius.
All of this adds up to an enjoyably undemanding set of Scandinavian trifles, sometimes a bit too sweet and inconsequential but mainly inviting the listener to explore more music from the region. Not just music for Spring!