The Sound of Scandinavia [Box Set]

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It's difficult to discern exactly who is the intended audience for the six-disc set The Sound of Scandinavia. Fans of Grieg and Sibelius, the two best-known composers represented here, may well be uninterested in hearing works by such relative unknowns as Berwald, Stenhammar, and Larsson, not to mention Järnefelt and Rangström. On the other hand, listeners interested in exploring the byways of the Scandinavian repertoire may find much that is fascinating. There are pieces such as Sinding's tender Rustle of Spring and Alfvén's exuberant Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 that were once enormously popular but have now faded into obscurity, and songs by Rangström and polkas by Lumbye, which, while still popular in their native countries, are more or less forgotten internationally. In addition, there are works that surely deserve to be better known outside their native countries, such as Larsson's evocative Pastorale, Wirén's elegant String Serenade, and Stenhammar's sensuous Serenade in F. Though the performances come from a wide range of musicians and countries, with contributors including John Barbirolli, Eugene Ormandy, Paavo Berglund, and Stig Westerberg, they generally range from quite fine to simply superb, and the sound is consistently clear and colorful.

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