Franz Berwald, BERWALD: Overtures

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Classical compositions that sound as timely now as when they were written.

A composer ahead of his time, underrated, forced to make a living outside of music: in Berwald's case this romantic legend is pretty close to true. Mercurial, darting, abrupt, invigoratingly imaginative, his music was too much for the Sweden of his day — Berwald found success in his homeland only in his last decade — and even now surprises audiences. His 1842 Wettlauf (Race), for one, a musical description of the sensation of speed, could have been written last Tuesday. Joining it on this disc, in bold and sympathetic performances from Petri Sakari and the Gavle Symphony, are three other tone-poems, an opera overture and a concert-piece showing off the (itself neglected) bassoon.