ウィレン:交響曲 第2番/同第3番/演奏会用序曲 第1番/同第2番
交響曲 第2番/同第3番/演奏会用序曲 第1番/同第2番
This is wonderful music from a master composer. It's so shameful that such wonderful music makers remain relatively obscure to most people. Both symphonies are great - filled with wonderful melodies and warmth. His orchestrations are masterful and I'm looking forward to the fourth and fifth. The two concert overtures are also top-notch. Thanks to CPO for the excellent sound and to the band and the conductor who clearly love and understand this music.
The second symphony is an active, indeed restless work, always striking out in new, interesting directions and dominated by fluttery woodwinds and busy string figures - but each movement is also based on wonderful melodies to offset the activity. The overall effect is actually more pastoral than dramatic; music of open fields, woodlands and blue skies, but it is exquisitely realized and not without traces of an epic sweep to it. The third is more aggressive, at least in the first movement, which has a certain (mock?) martial feel to it (the thematic development is also clever). It is contrasted with a lamentateous, intensely nostalgic slow movement, but the intensity is realized by subtle means, never pathos, whereas the third movement, based on the main themes from the previous two movements pitted against each other, is another active, slightly aggressive movement that develops into a cunningly realized and magnificent climax. It is a much more complex and subtle work than its predecessor, and I am actually willing to consider it something of a masterpiece. The two overtures are extremely enjoyable, somewhat Sibelian (but without much trace of romanticism), well-crafted and tuneful.
The performances by the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Dausgaard are truly admirable, full of spirit and brilliance, spry and witty and superbly paced, if not, perhaps, ideally full-bodied (but then again, the music doesn't really need it). No complaints about the sound quality either. In short, a very strongly recommended release.
Wiren believed in absolute music, so none of these pieces indulges in the pictorialism of Strauss or the impressionism of Debussy. In addition, Wiren's muse was given to terseness, so the longest piece on either disc is a 30 minute symphony with the remainder of the pieces being around 20 minutes.
These two disc also illustrate two very different sides of Wiren's temperment. Basically, it seems to me, Wiren got more severe and terse as he got older. Thus, the disc containing the 2nd and 3rd symphonies and two overtures contains far more approachable music than the disc with the 4th and 5th symphonies and the ballet suite. That said, there is nothing on either of these discs that will send the moderately adventurous listener running from the room.
What does Wiren sound like? Well, like a lot of Scandanavian composers, he doesn't always escape the influence of Sibelius, particularly in his use of slow harmonic motion and cold, clear orchestral sounds. Both the 2nd and 3rd symphonies contain memorable thematic material which reminds me vaguely of Sibelius' early symphonies. This disc is clearly the place to start with Wiren, because it contains ideas that will stick easily in your memory. Both overtures are tuneful delights as well.
The disc containing the 4th and 5th symphonies is more difficult. Both pieces have an austerity that reminds me of Vaughan Williams late music. The 4th has an otherworldly quality akin to the bizarre finale to VW's Sixth Symphony. The Fifth seems to inhabit the world of VW's 7th and 9th symphonies, although I must stress that Wiren does not indulge in modality the way Vaughan Williams does.
Instead, there is a sense that everything has been pared to the remote, abstract core. The 4th, for instance, is a 18-minute piece in three movements built completely around the opening theme heard on the clarinet. It isn't always easy to follow the meaning in either of these pieces, but it is fascinating and entrancing in its way.
The ballet suite on the disc with 4 & 5 is much more tuneful and reminiscent of the earlier symphonies. Even here, though, I detect a slight distancing, as if Wiren was hearing the dance tunes of an earlier era through a veil.
Both discs are reasonably well played. One might hope for a little more tonal beauty in the later pieces than one gets here, but it's likely no one else will ever record these pieces. As with all CPO records, we get good notes that tell you what to look for. The sound is well balanced, if not exceptionally warm.
If Wiren intrigues you, take a chance on the 2nd and 3rd symphonies first. If you like late Vaughan Williams, the 4th and 5th might also catch your fancy.