Walton and Stenhammar

(For music lovers.) We went to a concert this afternoon in the wonderful Musikaliska concert hall in Stockholm, attracted there (for my part) by a performance of William Walton’s Violin Concerto, which I knew from recordings but had never heard live before. It’s a fine and exciting work, underperformed, I think – certainly in Sweden – but played here superbly well by Alexander Kagan (vln) and the Norlandsoperans Symfoniorkester – a ‘regional’ Swedish band, though you wouldn’t guess it from hearing them. The conductor, to whom of course should go most of the credit for the performance, was one JoAnn [sic] Falletta: one of the new breed of female conductors who are at last beginning to make it in this most male-dominated of worlds. It was glorious.

Flanking the Concerto were two other works. The first was a kind of concert overture, Camelopardalis 9, by another woman, Andrea Tarrodi, a young blonde Swede (sorry for the cliché), which blew us away: pastoral, sonorous, thickly and ingeniously orchestrated, with echoes (but not too many) of Debussy, Stravinsky and Forest Murmurs – utterly moving. I must see if she’s on CD.

The third item was a disappointment to me, shown up I think by the preceding works. It was Stenhammar’s Second Symphony: boring, repetitive, superficial, with no decent tunes or original ideas. But then I’ve never, even after all these years in Sweden, taken to Stenhammar. During the performance I caught myself wondering why he bothered? Kajsa liked the symphony better, but then she’s Swedish, and a better musician than I am; and may be able to hear things in it I can’t.

Sweden has better composers than this – Alven, Larsson, Berwald – but none of the stature of its neighbours’ best: Sibelius, Grieg, Nielsen. I’ve no idea why. Perhaps the Swedes might claim Sibelius as one of their own. He was a Swedish-Finn, after all.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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2 Responses to Walton and Stenhammar

  1. “His Brexit strategy has always been consistent, and is the only clear one on offer today with any chance of delivering anything close to what we Europhile Remainers want.”
    Europhile Remainers want a second referendum, which is in fact the ‘only clear [strategy] on offer today’. Corbyn has very strong sympathies with Brexit, and his muddied position on the EU reflects this ambivalence. While his so-called socialist policies are justifiably popular with the public, his Brexit stance has been very unpopular, gaining the approval of 18% of the electorate. His equivocation has placed him at the margins of the debate, when Remainers required him to be in the thick of it.


    • I think this should be attached to my next post (above)….! Opinion polls, by the way, follow the images of politicians put out by the press, and will almost certainly be changed – as they were in ’17 – once an election campaign gets under way.


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