WORKS: Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4
PERFORMER: Mark Fahlsjö (organ); Norrköping SO/Mikhail Jurowski
CATALOGUE NO: 999 369-2
All that connects these two composers, Ture Rangström (1884-1947) and Daniel Börtz (born 1943), is their Swedish nationality and the fact that both are symphonists. Rangström’s works are couched securely in the language of late Romanticism, while Börtz has come up with his own post-modern synthesis, in which elements from a number of the 20th-century ‘isms’ co-exist in a harmonic framework that is fundamentally tonal. There are moments in Börtz that recall Varèse, others that seem to look to Lutoslawski as a model, with an angular, raw way of constructing melodic lines which never quite builds the emotional intensity that seems to be promised.
Rangström’s results, though, are more impressive. His single-movement Third Symphony, ‘Song under the Stars’, is essentially a sequence of variations on a melody from one of his own songs, in a fast-slow-scherzo-finale scheme for which the orchestral writing, generally languorous and relaxed, seems thoroughly expert and the proportions nicely judged. The Fourth is more problematic: some of the writing, in the pair of slow movements especially, has a distinctive tang that recalls Elgar, although the connection, one suspects, is Brahms and early Strauss, but the inclusion of an organ in some of the movements makes it an unsatisfactory hybrid, however imaginative some of the textures. Andrew Clements