Colin Clarke

Wirén: Sinfonietta Op 71; Serenade for Strings Op 11; Divertimento Op 29; Symphony No 3 Op 20

8:00, 22nd February 2018

Iceland SO/Rumon Gamba
CHANDOS SACD CHSA 5194 70 mins

While Swedish composer Dag Wirén (1905-1986) is best known for his Serenade, this disc reveals him as a composer of depth and consistency. The third symphony (1943/4) shows his penchant for organic growth via pithy cells; everything is finely considered (his catalogue only boasts some 44 opus numbers, testifying perhaps to careful craftsmanship). Atmospherically, one can detect a Scandinavian-pastoral element in parts of the first movement; the central panel has an impressive leanness. Two other available performances – Dausgaard/Norrköping and Solyom/Sami Sinfonietta – offer different couplings. Dausgaard is an excellent alternative; Solyom’s recording is lacking.

The Serenade receives a delightfully fresh reading, the string unanimity an absolute joy and clearly the fruit of much preparation. The scherzo frolics splendidly before the marcia finale (the most frequently excerpted movement) breezily strides by. The Divertimento is in the same vein and should be heard more, especially given the playful counterpoint of the second movement. The Sinfonietta exhales sunshine in its first movement; Prokofiev peeks through the finale. A most worthwhile disc.

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