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Penguin Guide, January 2009

ALFVÉN: Symphony No. 2 / The Prodigal Son 8.555072
ALFVÉN: Symphony No. 3 / Legend of the Skerries 8.553729
ALFVÉN: Symphony No. 4, Op. 39 / Festival Overture, Op. 52 8.557284

The Second Symphony of 1899 put Alfvén firmly on the map. On Naxos it is coupled with The Prodigal Son ballet, which is a delight.

The sensitive, well-prepared performances under Niklas Willén also serve these symphonies well.

The Fourth is perhaps Alfvén’s most ambitious and in many ways most imaginative symphony and Alfvén takes a leaf out of Nielsen’s book by incorporating two wordless voices into the score in the manner of the Sinfonia espansiva. The Naxos version from Iceland is well played and is highly competitive, without necessarily being a first choice, unless the Naxos coupling is preferred.

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