It's a common idea that Christian Sinding's compositional career staled a little as it developed. Whereas the early works are fresh and somewhat personal, the later works are far too heavily indebted to the composer's great Germanic models, in particular Wagner. On the evidence of these two late works the idea is certainly not baseless - these works definitely lack some of the freshness of the earlier music - but more experience also meant (in Sinding's case) increased compositional skills, and Sinding certainly did not run out of good ideas, even if the music here is hardly very original. Both works sound rather Germanic, and there are few touches of Norwegian folk music or any particularly Nordic character, and they are often rather densely scored - both, but especially the third, are imposing, big, a bit sturdy work, yet there is plenty to savor here for any lover of late romantic music.
The third symphony, in F major, dates from 1919 and is pretty conservative for its date of composition. It is a large-scale, deeply romantic work that owes a bit to Wagner, Brahms and Bruckner. It also contains plenty of good ideas, interestingly developed and treated with skill and ingenuity. The opening Con fuoco is very fine, though the slow movement tends to outstay its welcome a little; overall it is hardly a major work, and it is not particularly notable for its originality, but for a "standard", conservative late romantic work it is certainly a fine one.
The fourth symphony was completed very late in the composer's career (1936), but Sinding had been working on it since 1921. Indeed, the composer called it a Rhapsody for Orchestra "Vinter og Vår" ("Winter and Spring"), and although it is symphonic in scope it was, as far as I can gather, never considered to be the fourth symphony by the composer himself. It consists of seven movements with plenty of color and atmosphere; the scoring is also a bit curious - the composer evidently went for light and air, though couldn't escape his penchant for somewhat thick textures. Nevertheless, with a prominent place for the piano it does convey the effect of spring rain and the awakening of the Earth after winter. The second and third movements are particularly atmospheric, though it is overall a fine work if, again, hardly a masterpiece.
The Norwegian Radio Orchestra under Ari Rasilainen plays with obvious commitment and sensitivity, and despite a few passages where a bit more refinement would certainly have helped blowing some air into Sinding's textures, the performances are overall good. The sound quality is fine as well. I still wonder a bit why Warner chose a packaging that screams "cheap and dirty" for their Apex series, but hope that it won't deter those who enjoy good off-the-beaten-path late romantic symphonism from making this worthwhile discovery.