Lars-Erik Larsson probably is one of northern Europes most underestimated composers of the 20th century. Maybe because he didn't wright music that was 'modern' in a time that was modern - his concern seems to have been to wright simple, beautiful music - making him more neo-classical/romantic than modernistic. His symphonies are just that, simple and beautiful, handcrafted by a man who, just like Grieg, Sibelius, Gade, Alfven and Nielsen, could catch the special melancholy of the nordic sentiment within short phrases. It's true that these symphonies doesn't give you a very new, refreshing input to the development of classical music, no great surprises, but it nevertheless is extremely beautiful and freshsounding. The instrumentation sounds like a intelligently and successfully largened stringquartet, with the same dynamic expressivness, and the same simplicity.
All this is shown in both of the symphonies. The first being mostly soft and lyrical, with lots of the very special, nordic, inseparable changes between minor and major harmonies. The second is a little more serious with a short melody, altering from one section of the orchestra to the other, and for every time it's passed on, it's also developed a little further til it reaches its most singing part, with lots of nordic dance-rythms beneath. The woodwinds plays a very important part here, sometimes changing to the strings, but always returning to the winds, with its dark, serious and in the same time transparent sound. So if the first sounds like spring/summer, the second is more like mid-winter.
To get a complete picture of the maybe most romantic nordic music you just might get in one and the same composer (Larsson) you must also try his 'Pastoral-suite', the 'romance' is suffocatingly beautiful and nothing short of worldclass, and his smaller-scale works of concertinos (especially the one for clarinet) and sinfoniettas. These have been succesfully recorded ny both EMI and BIS. All these are preferably played by swedish or nordic orchestras, as here, for there is something special about this music, that lies deep down of the nordic sentimentality, that really can't be as well understood by easteuropeans or others. This BIS-recording also have the favour of being very well balanced and engineered.
If you've heard the symphonical music of Sibelius, Grieg or any of the above stated, maybe Larsson, and liked it - Listen to this! You surely won't get disappointed. It's extremely beautiful!