I’ve found myself listening to a lot of Hugo Alfven and Hakon Borresen this week. Their symphonies captivated me, thanks to #symphonyaday on Twitter, and I quickly looked for as many recordings of their respective works as I could find. When I noticed the two men were born within a few years of one another, I decided to find music by a few of their contemporaries as well. This week’s pieces were all composed by men born in the 1870s. Enjoy!
1. Hugo Alfven (1872-1960) –“Dalarapsodi” (Dalecarlian Rhapsody), Op. 47, “Swedish Rhapsody No. 3” (8.553729) This beautiful programmatic piece depicts a young sheppard girl’s dream. Alfven wrote, "I imagine a shepherd-girl sitting on the grass at her mountain farm in the quiet and deserted woodlands, blowing her horn. I want to depict her dreams, her longing. In the distance she hears a bridal procession pass by and in her dreams she is once more among her friends down in the village. She remembers merry dances in the evenings and church on Sundays and the exalted solemn hymns. She shivers as she remembers the night when a strange man appeared among them, seized a fiddle and played wild and strange tunes that made the people go mad. It was the Devil himself. The shepherd-girl starts up with a cry of fear, then she wakes from her horrible dream and looks around in confusion. Quietly she takes up her horn again. I hear the same melody as in the beginning. And the woods answer her, sighing deeply."
2. Guillaume Lekeu (1870-1894) –Violin Sonata in G major (AR-0012-2)
3. Hakon Borresen (1876-1954) –Symphony No. 1 in c minor (8.554950)
4. Ludolf Nielson (1876-1939) –Babelstarnet (The Tower of Bable), Op. 35 and Skovvandring (Forest Walk), Op. 40 (8.224157
5. Hugo Alfven –Vaggvisa (Lullaby) (BIS-CD-633)
6. Paul Jeanjean (1875-1929) –Prelude et Scherzo (MM1024) Piece for bassoon and piano; short and sweet with a fun, bouncy scherzo
7. Henri Zagwijn (1878-1954) –“Zeergedragen” (CC72166) This little-known Dutch composer was entirely self-taught with a small body of work. This is the only piece we have in the NML, and it’s a great piece for solo harmonium.
8. Hakon Borresen –Violin Concerto in G Major, Op. 11 (DACOCD465-466)
9. Roger Quitter (1877-1953) –Country Pieces (8.223444) Great English composer—His pieces are childlike, light and just plain fun.
10. Henry Hadley (1871-1937) –Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 132 (TROY305)