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Erland von Koch (1910-2009): Symphony No. 3; Sinfonia Seria, Op. 51; Impulsi (1964); Nordiskt Capriccio, Op. 26 / Swedish Radio SO, Hammarstrom

Album Summary

>Koch, Erland von : Symphony no 3, Op. 38
>Koch, Erland von : Symphony no 4, Op. 51 ("Sinfonia Seria")
>Koch, Erland von : Impulsi Trilogy
>Koch, Erland von : Nordic Capriccio, Op. 26
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Symphony No.3 and Sinfonia seria are World Premičre Recordings. Along with Lars-Erik Larsson and Dag Wirén, Erland von Koch was part of a generation of composers who all made their débuts during the 1930s. Active until the end of a very long life (1910 - 2009), von Koch became one of Sweden's best loved composers, himself describing his artistic goals as follows: 'I aim for a simple, clear, melodic style, often with elements of folk tone and with a definite rhythmic profile... The older you get, the more aware you become of the importance of melody.' One of von Koch's most frequently performed orchestral works is Nordiskt capriccio, which was inspired by a folk tune from Dalecarlia, and which forms the festive finale on the present disc. The compositions which precede it here are less well known, however - Impulsi (the first part of a triptych later completed with the works Echi and Ritmi) was taken up by conductors such as Sergiu Comis­siona and Walter Weller, but the two symphonies appear for the first time on disc. Especially in Symphony No.3, influences from Bartók and Hindemith can be detected - composed in 1948, it is a work which in its thematic material contrasts defiance with lyricism and, finally, a feeling of release. Sinfonia seria, von Koch's fourth work in the genre, followed a few years later, undergoing a final revision in 1962. As indicated by the title, the underlying mood of the work is grave and bittersweet - possibly this is reflected in the composer's own words regarding the thankless task of writing symphonies: 'They are rarely played - especially if they are Swedish - and it takes a long time before they are "discovered" and accepted, if indeed they ever are.' With this disc, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Per Hammarström are making their case for a hoped-for, and long overdue 'discovery' of Erland von Koch's symphonies.

Gramophone Magazine, April 2016
Per Hammarstr÷m, in his first recording, secures a performance [of the Nordic Capriccio] that is if anything the tautest yet and wrings even more warmth from the lyrical second subject [than any competitor]... the main part of the disc is given over to premiere recordings of the neo-classical Third and Fourth Symphonies... all four works [on the disc] are hugely attractive and idiomatically played, and I recommend this disc unreservedly.

BBC Music Magazine, July 2016
Dark undercurrents swirl in both symphonies, moments of unsettling beauty juxtaposed with passages of fidgety rhythmic energy... Hammarstr÷m balances the orchestral sound judiciously, with wind lines and the all-important percussion coming through clean and clear against lean, expressive strings.

American Record Guide, May/June 2016
BIS fills out its Koch program with two shorter but quite substantive and enjoyable pieces : the six-minute, 1943 Nor wegian Capriccio and 11-minute, 1964 Impulses. The first of these is, as you'd expect, celebratory, tuneful, and high-spirited, especially as it builds an irresistible head of steam that propels the music to its exciting conclusion. Enclosing an angry central vivace with quieter, mysterious andantes, it makes memorable and effective use of long string lines overlaid by brightly-colored woodwind flourishes that arc up above them like pyrotechnics spread across a night-time skyscape.

Anyone drawn to such mid-century American stalwarts as David Diamond or Walter Piston, or for that matter Honegger or Henk Badings or Stanley Bate or Dag Wiren (or many another from the large international ranks of highly skilled midcentury modern-but-conservative symphonists) is likely to enjoy and admire Koch's symphonies, as I do. Listeners seeking more of this composer's symphonic works will find several recordings of his (relatively) popular Oxberg Variations (one of his folk song-based compositions). ARG's John McKelvey praised these as "20th Century in spirit [but also] melodic, well-crafted, and easily assimilated" (Nov/Dec 2004). This new BIS leads me to emphatically concur in that assessment.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Berwald Hall, Stockholm, Sweden (05/2010); Berwald Hall, Stockholm, Sweden (05/2011); Berwald Hall, Stockholm, Sweden (06/2013).



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Works Details

>Koch, Erland von : Symphony no 3, Op. 38
  • Conductor: Per Hammarstrom
  • Ensemble: Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 23 min. 44 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1948

>Koch, Erland von : Symphony no 4, Op. 51 ("Sinfonia Seria")
  • Conductor: Per Hammarstrom
  • Running Time: 20 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1962

>Koch, Erland von : Impulsi Trilogy
  • Conductor: Per Hammarstrom
  • Running Time: 11 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Koch, Erland von : Nordic Capriccio, Op. 26
  • Conductor: Per Hammarstrom
  • Running Time: 6 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1943