Symphony No. 3 ‘Sång under stjärnorna’
Ture Rangström – Symphony No. 3 ‘Sång under stjärnorna’
(b. Stockholm, 30 November 1884 – d. Stockholm, 11 May 1947)
Of Rangström’s four symphonies, his third feels the most personal. He titled the single-movement work ‘Song under the stars,’ and explained in the premiere programme note that it was inspired by his experience of solitary, nocturnal sailing trips. The symphony thus has an explicit connection to an aspect of Rangström’s life that was both personally and musically significant: the summers that he spent sailing and composing in the Gryt archipelago in Östergötland, a region south of Stockholm. His descriptions of its islands and waters show that he experienced the seascapes there in an extremely vivid, even synesthetic, way: ‘But now Finnfjärden sparkles in the evening fire like an F sharp major triad for large orchestra with six trumpets! Orange and sulphur-green in the west, silver-grey in the east; and the dashing southeast … sweeps with uneasy, heaving swells over black depths and pale shoals; it twists and tosses, because there is a storm out to sea.’
These words are drawn from a 1943 interview, by which time Rangström’s affection for the Gryt archipelago was long-established. Back in 1934, its role in his creative life had already been so widely recognised that some friends of Rangström organised a public subscription to buy a small island there as a 50th birthday gift. According to Rangström’s daughter Villemo, he carried the title deeds around with him for the rest of the evening.
No doubt Rangström’s Symphony No. 3, which premiered in Stockholm on 8 January 1930, had played a part in confirming the strength and artistic value of his affinity for the region. Although Rangström insisted that the inspiration of nocturnal voyages was not intended to restrict the listener’s imagination to a particular narrative sequence, reviewers eagerly latched onto programmatic interpretations. They noted his dramatic portrayals of wind and storm, as well as calmer sections ‘when one must assume that the boat escaped into the leeward passage’. Certainly, Rangström captures the howl of the wind and the heave of the waves in his orchestral timbres and gestures: there are gusts of tremolo and scampering pizzicato, swirling woodwind, powerful brass, shrill ostinati, and rolling timpani, snare and cymbals. And there are indeed moments of respite, of almost breathless calm, in which a solo violin often sings out. But by seeking to string these sea-pictures together into a single narrative, Rangström’s contemporaries may have missed a deeper and more personal message.
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210 x 297 mm