Larsson’s Reactionary Third Symphony

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 5

Sound Quality: 9

Larsson composed his Third Symphony in 1944-5, but you’d think it was written 75 years earlier. It has absolutely nothing interesting or distinctive to recommend it. From the shopworn approach to form, to the conservative unto death orchestration, it sounds like the work of a composer who had no business attempting a symphony. Given the music’s lack of allure and his evident discomfort, it’s not surprising that the other works on this disc represent him working in a post-Hindemith, quasi-atonal idiom that certainly sounds more congenial, if not more attractive for the listener.

The Three Orchestral Pieces are dry, wiry, and utterly charmless. The Adagio for String Orchestra flees from the memory before the last note has faded into silence. Musica permutatio has slightly more potential; you can tell that Larsson believes in his technique and exploits it with no little craftsmanship, but what he is trying to say is anyone’s guess. It’s just sterile. The performances presumably give the music as much positive energy as it can absorb, and the sonics are excellent, but really, who cares?

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

    Symphony No. 3; Three Orchestral Pieces; Adagio for String Orchestra; Musica permutatio
  • CPO - 777 673-2
  • SACD

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