New reviews of the Naxos CD with Symphonies 1& 5
I did not know Sivelöv’s music. I have now discovered it, and he is a wonderful symphonist who can write broadly, darkly and compellingly for orchestra. A lone oriental voice emerges in the Nordic context, because today’s world is globalised. But gloominess and conciseness are quite clearly the music’s DNA, and to me this music concerns itself with inwardness. Soul and psyche are condensed into intense notes. After a scream that could have been painted by Edvard Munch, the symphony turns inwards – very Nordic, personal and private, it seems to me – before Sivelöv, inspired by good old Stravinsky, lets the music end in dancing, with neoclassical rhythmic features in an agitated, stomping harbinger of disaster – perhaps just formally long, but clearly an all the more genuinely felt finale ending. And of course, just as in Sivelöv’s expressive, fluid and bluesy Fifth Symphony, good use is made of the composer’s own instrument, the piano.
To define his artistic profile and stylistic framework, the recording delivers interesting material. It is a pleasure to hear the Malmö Opera Orchestra under the direction of Joachim Gustafsson in these symphonies, which are listener-friendly and accessible but not lacking in originality and substance.
The First Symphony, vintage 2013, has been given a special label: “Nordico”. The tones of the northern winter and the deep forests allow the listener to engage in the landscape as a musical state of mind, not as program music but as emotional mood. That Jean Sibelius is a kind of godfather to this is evident. As well as lots of percussion there are sometimes interwoven piano sounds. This is not some refined chamber-music construction, it is nature in rebellion and eruption. The composer mentions Edvard Munch’s well-known picture “The Scream” as an explosive background.
The Fifth Symphony was added in 2020. The author characterises the two-movement piece as “Concerto for orchestra”. The work does not have the same dramatic dimensions as the First Symphony; instead, it contains meditative moments, alternating with a certain jazz-inspired playfulness.
Personally, I would like to return to “Nordico”, with its fresh weather and natural feeling, which should have the whole world as its domain.
What is his motivation and his main characteristic? Perhaps: cross-border versatility and bold curiosity.