Paavo Järvi / Ole Schmidt / Malmö Symphony Orchestra

Ole Schmidt, Gunnar Jansson: Oresundssymfonin; Niels W. Gade: Violin Concerto

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The Oresund Symphony, composed jointly by Ole Schmidt and Gunnar Jansson, is conceptually a very fascinating endeavor. It is a musical representation of the construction of the Oresund Bridge, which links Denmark and Sweden. What better way to accomplish this than using a composer from each of these countries? Schmidt, the Danish composer, begins the symphony with a discussion of the sea creatures and how the bridge will impact them. The two middle movements, composed by Swede Jansson, provide a link to the past by infusing ancient text and Swedish folk melodies. The finale, also composed by Schmidt, is the only movement without text. Here, we experience the building of the bridge itself through large, mechanistic symphonic writing, contrasting sharply with the thinner textures of the previous three movements. The performance is strong and Schmidt (who also conducts) does an admirable job of bringing forward the subtle links between the four movements.

The remainder of the album is devoted to a very contrasting piece of music -- the lyrical and romantic Gade Violin Concerto. This infrequently heard work was given its 1880 premiere by none other than Joseph Joachim. The performance heard here falls a little short of what Joachim is likely to have achieved. Balance is frequently a problem, making the soloist difficult to hear at times. Intonation in the higher registers sometimes falls flat, making the whole experience rather lackluster. The Oresund Symphony is definitely the star of this disc.

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