Paul Mägi

Helmer Alexandersson: Overture; Symphony No. 2

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Very little is known about Swedish composer Helmer Alexandersson save that he was born into a patrician family in 1886, that he died in poverty in 1927, and that at various points in the 41 years between his birth and death, he composed. Whether he composed a lot or a little is unknown; almost none of his music was performed in his lifetime and very little of it was preserved after his death. Two of the works that have survived, however, are included in this disc of world-premiere recordings: his Overture in C minor from 1910 and his Symphony in G minor from 1914. As performed here by the Uppsala Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Paul Mägi, they prove worthy works with big-hearted themes, strong forms, and brilliant orchestrations. One misses the more distinctive compositional personalities of contemporaries like Alfvén, Atterberg, and Stenhammar, but there's no denying that, judged solely on its merits, Alexandersson's orchestral music is well-wrought and effective. For a taste, try the exuberantly dramatic Overture or the rollicking pizzicato Intermezzo from the Symphony. They may or may not be great music, but at least in these dedicated performances, they sound like great fun. Recorded live in concert in 2006, this disc may not be for everyone who fancies fin de siècle orchestral music; but listeners with a special interest in Scandinavian orchestral music may well deem it worth hearing.

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