Eyvind Alnaes may be Norway's greatest fin de siècle symphonic composer, but judging from his two symphonies, performed here by the Latvian National Symphony under the direction of Terje Mikkelsen, his music sounds like a combination of Brahms and Tchaikovsky, though nowhere near as good as either. Alnaes takes his conservative approach to harmony from the German composer, his heavy textures, and his generally dour tone, and from the Russian, his conventional approach to form, a certain thematic impulsiveness, and a tendency toward balletic rhythms. Whether or not this works depends less on the quality of the performances than on the listener's tolerance of epigones and poetasters, because certainly Mikkelsen and his Latvian musicians are giving everything they have to these works. A more than respectable provincial orchestra, the Latvian ensemble has a rough and ready professionalism and an obvious dedication to the music, and Mikkelsen's leadership is assured and his commitment to the music is manifest. The earlier C minor Symphony does more than echo Tchaikovsky's heightened emotional tone; it comes close to outright imitating it, while the D major Symphony's more diverse movements imitate Tchaikovsky's Third Symphony in particular. Still, Alnaes surely knew what he was doing and he was doing it to the best of his abilities, and the sincerity of the music may appeal to some listeners. Sterling's sound is rich, ripe, and warm.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 7|
|Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43|