Antal Doráti / Sixten Ehrling / Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra

Karl-Birger Blomdahl: Symphony No. 3; Sisyphus; Forma Ferritonans; '...The Journey on This Night'

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Karl-Birger Blomdahl was easily the most internationally recognized Swedish composer of the mid-20th century, due largely to Aniara (1958), the first "science fiction opera," which takes place on a spaceship full of refugees fleeing an earth ravaged by nuclear holocaust. It was one of the first operas to significantly incorporate electronics, and its adventurous exploration of new themes and musical realms typified Blomdahl's approach to composition, which restlessly developed throughout his career. The four orchestral works included here, written between 1950 and 1966, are unified by a high level of energy and a sure sense of dramatic development, but they also demonstrate the evolution of the composer's engagement with a variety of musical styles. His Symphony No. 3, "Facetter," from 1950, which brought Blomdahl to international attention, shows both the early influence of Hindemith and a growing interest in the Second Viennese School and effectively synthesizes the traditions. The suite from the ballet Sisyphus adds to the mix a loose-limbed jazziness. Forma Ferritonans, written for the dedication of an iron foundry (the noise of whose operations reportedly drowned out the orchestra at the premiere), is a depiction of accumulating raw, mechanistic power. …The Journey on This Night, for soprano and orchestra, written two years before his death, is the sparest but also the most lyrical work included, its stratospheric solo sung with security and sensitivity by Elizabeth Söderström. Each piece is led by a different conductor, Sixten Ehrling, Antal Dorati, Sergiu Comissiona, and Yuri Ahronovitch, conducting the Stockholm Philharmonic. Caprice's sound is generally clean and clear, but not especially spacious.

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