The background to the Sinfonie capricieuse
is surrounded in mystery. A sketch survives of a symphonic short score in D and dated ‘Nykoping 18 June 1842’ and this is confirmed in Mathilde’s diary one week later. The apparent full score of this work went missing at Berwald’s death and, despite a reward offered in 1910, it has never been found. There is absolutely no clear evidence to link the surviving short score with the missing full score, but in 1914 the first performance was given in Stockholm from orchestral material prepared by Ernst Ellberg. A more stylish re-working of the symphony was made in 1968 by the noted Berwald scholar Nils Castegren, and it is his edition (published with the facsimile short score in 1970) which we perform here.
Although there is no scherzo, the usual characteristics are all present. The opening Allegro is virtually monothematic and based on short motifs often in three- or five-bar phrase lengths. Further use of syncopations and hemiolas, chromaticism and unexpected harmonic progressions help to sustain the momentum. There is an eloquent slow movement with a developed contrasting middle section followed directly by a lengthy tarantella-like Finale. The latter movement is in grave danger of outstaying its welcome, but somehow it keeps afloat, thanks to Berwald’s freshness and spontaneity.
from notes by Roy Goodman © 1995