Sinding: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2

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WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2
PERFORMER: NDR Radio PO Hanover/Thomas Dausgaard
CATALOGUE NO: 999 502-2
Most Norwegian composers after Grieg and Svendsen are steeped in their rich storehouse of folksong, but an exception is Christian Sinding of Rustle of Spring fame. He was a year older than Elgar, and his musical language has its roots in Wagner, Liszt and Strauss – particularly Wagner. There is scant evidence of interest in the Norwegian folk tradition, though his music is still recognisably Nordic. He began the first of his four symphonies in 1887 though it did not reach its final form until the mid-1890s, while the second followed a decade later. At the beginning of the last century Sinding, along with Grieg and Svendsen, symbolised Norwegian music for the rest of Europe, but no one listening to either of these symphonies would suggest that he possesses more than a fraction of their freshness and inventive quality. One of his professors at the Leipzig Conservatory said his ‘talent for music is only of a very limited nature’ and though he subsequently developed, particularly in his grasp of form, his is not a strongly individual voice. Both symphonies are well crafted, though the scoring is often opaque. Thomas Dausgaard is a persuasive advocate and gets good playing from the excellent Hanover orchestra. On balance I would prefer his readings to the rival Norwegian Radio accounts under Ari Rasilainen. Robert Layton