- Composer: Atterberg
- Audio CD (March 1 2000)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Cpo
- ASIN: B00004HYNU
- In-Print Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 Import
|1. Sym No.1 in b, Op.3: Allegro Con Fuoco|
|2. Sym No.1 in b, Op.3: Adagio|
|3. Sym No.1 in b, Op.3: Presto|
|4. Sym No.1 in b, Op.3: Adagio - Allegro Energico|
|5. Sym No.4 in g, Op.14 'Sinf Piccola': Con Forza|
|6. Sym No.4 in g, Op.14 'Sinf Piccola': Andante|
|7. Sym No.4 in g, Op.14 'Sinf Piccola': Scherzo|
|8. Sym No.4 in g, Op.14 'Sinf Piccola': Finale. Rondo|
Born in Gothenburg, Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974) worked for 65 years at the Swedish Patent Office (he finally retired in 1968, at the tender age of 81), yet he also somehow managed to find time to write a wealth of music, including five operas, five concertos and nine symphonies. This welcome release (the first instalment in a brand new Atterberg symphony cycle from the German CPO label) couples the grand and youthfully exuberant first symphony of 1909-10 with the altogether lighter fourth (subtitled Sinfonia piccola) of eight years later. Intriguingly, there's little specifically Nordic flavour to the former, save for a dash of Sibelius and perhaps Hugo Alfven in the last two movements, whereas the fourth employs actual Swedish folk tunes (and to most charming, frequently haunting effect, too). On the evidence served up here, Atterberg may not have been a great composer, but there's no denying his strong melodic appeal and deft resourcefulness. The young Finnish maestro, Ari Rasilainen, secures playing of commendable polish and dashing commitment from his excellent Frankfurt Radio forces, and the sound is ripe and true to match. Well worth exploring. --Andrew Achenbach
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The second movement is particularly spellbinding and poetic (a sure sign of the slow movements of the succeeding symphonies that convey great depth and flair). The beginning is peaceful and solemn. But the following passages become vivid and memorable. Listen to how a particular elegiac passage (@4'05''-ff) is given the more sense of this magical, compelling wroughtfullness by the english horn (cor anglais) admirably supported by the harp arpeggios and viola solo. This is something even Dvorak and Strauss would have appreciate. The mood intensifies into something of a "Hollywoodish" grandeur before the closing of the movement in ways contemplative in feeling. Then turn to the scherzo and you'll find some very adventurous writing, with the ideas again poignant and vivid.
Unlike the finales of the first symphonies of, say Alfven, Rangstrom, or Stenhammar, this finale is nicely held together. I admire the way he starts the first four minutes of the movement (adagio) with the compelling yet restrained expressionism of the second movement. The character is imaginative and noble and while I dreaded for the following allegro energico to be banal and empty,....I was relieved by the fact that the opposite was true. The finale comes short of being episodic even though the development did not go as far as one might have expected. However, Atterberg convinces me of a composer capable of grasping one's attention. Small wonders then that prominent conductors after the 1912 Goteborg premiere promoted this abundantly inventive score, including Leopold Stokowski and Carl Nielsen (who may have thoughts of his own rigorous, highly original first symphony written roughly two decades earlier).
The Fourth Symphony in G minor (1918) is a highly an engaging, resourceful work, with the ideas witty and virtuosic. Listening to the first movement, I sense something of Sibelius and perhaps of Ravel and Poulenc in much of the string writing with the mood Nordic but somewhat impressionistic. The second movement is enchanting, with the muted, highly concentrated strings accompany by the clarinet solo. Then turn to the english horn and flute solos (3'35''-ff) and the mood is even more impressionistic, but something remotely Baxian in temperament that has magic and wonder (and I'm thinking of Bax's "Nympholept" not in terms of the orchestration, but in terms of the melodies that are haunting, a sort of "one who's entering the enchanting woods during the spring, amazed by density of the trees and the streams which began to show life after a long winter"). The scherzo is sort of neoclassical in design; A Sodermanland polka at the beginning followed by the trio using the Vastmanland polka. The finale is likewise engaging and its' melodic profiles are characteristic. It's again very idiomatic and imaginative and the ending has a sort of Nielsenian sarcasm to it that I actually laughed (out of enjoyment, mind you).
The Symphony is altogether a flawless work and my admiration towards it will continue to grow. The First, meanwhile, is a mighty strong, rewardingly inventive score that also deserve live concert performances. Atterberg was among the more successful of Scandinavian composers and with good reasons. Ari Rasilainen and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, judging from their authoritative, enthusiastic performances, concur emphatically.
This review will concentrate with the rarely heard d minor symphony though the entire set is excellent. Masur and the London Philharmonic work well together. For those who are not familiar with Masur's conducting, he does not use a baton (or at least didn't in a PBS telecast of the Rhenish Symphony with the NYPhil). He is also held somewhat as a hero in Germany due to his anti-Communist views in those dark days when Leipzig was still in East Germany. Masur was the musical director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra during that period.
This is the second readily available commercial recording of the d minor Symphony. Most of us are familiar with what was to become the Symphony no.4 in d minor, opus 120 which the album lists this work as. That is a mistake as there are some major differences between the original and revised and final version.
The original came to my attention when as a student we performed the 4th Symphony. As it turned out the 4th Symphony became a favorite of mine with the Furtwangler recording becoming my standard performance to judge all others by. The 4th is almost too rich in its thick texture. Schumann, it is told, was not the best conductor and in some places tripled solos so that if he missed the solo oboe's cue the cello's would also have the same material.
The primary differences are in the first and final movements with some drastic changes in instrumentation and melodic patterns. Clive Brown writes in the notes for the now thankfully deleted Norrington version that the changes are "largely confined to the orchestration . . (and) the first version has almost a chamber music quality. . .". In some ways he is correct. I suppose one could compare the final version as a full course meal with a lot really rich food. The original is not really low calorie neither but isn't as overfilling.
It is true that Schumann did take care of some of the original's deficiencies which do become apparant when one listens to it. What Clive Brown misses is the fact that the original has its tempo markings in the traditional Italian; the revised and well known version is in German. This is an important change as the second movement, for example is marked "Andante" while the revised is "Ziemlich langsam". The first movement is listed as Ziemlich langsam - Lebhaft, while the original is Andante con moto - vivace. Unless I am wrong, "langsam"means "slowly". Here again, Norrington flys through the Romanze in 3 minutes and ten seconds; Masur takes twenty-four seconds longer!
This is reflected in the timings of both the Masur and Harnoncourt performances or the original where the tempo in the first movement is quite brisk. Norrington, who seems to always have a problem with slow movements, reads the revised version as if it was the original and second movement faster than both of the original performances. To be sure, the revised version is best heard with such conductors as Furtwangler, Bernstein, or Kubelik to name a few.
Masur's performance is what to be expected: very good. The orchestra performs admirably. I suspect that this is a far more difficult work to perform than the final version which is so thick that any problems might be easily covered up. The violins, for example, have a lot of support work to do for the woodwinds in the first movement instead of simply doubling in on the melody with the winds. The faster tempo in the first movement makes sense too when you consider the differences between the original and revised in instrumentation, melodic layout and the language difference. Also not as much noticed was that favorite Schumannesque trembelo in the strings at places. It's there but not as much as in the final version.
All though Schumann did not make too many changes in the second and third movements as stated there are some interesting observations that can be made in the third: wind parts that are exposed in the second subject of the main section as well as a slight slowing down in the second subject before the return to the first. The other matter is the second movement: the solo instruments are exposed more. As in the rest of the original the woodwinds are not hidden behind a lot of layers of strings.
There has been some discussion of a missing guitar part that Schumann supposedly wrote in the second movement both by the conductor at the university I went to as well as a conductor I heard in a live performance. I'm not sure if the part was for solo or to accompany but if anyone finds an old guitar part written by Schumann in their attic kindly let us know.
This is a set well worth having. The price is medium with two CD's in one package. For that matter just hearing the original d minor alone is just about worth the price.
The version offered here by Mr. Masur and company is a fine recording in many respects. The performances themselves are wonderful and the recorded sound is quite crisp and ever present.
My only gripe is with the tempi. In one of my favorite movements, the adagio espressivo (Mvt 3) from the C major symphony, the piece trots along at a pace I find difficult calling adagio. This rendering is done in a matter of 8 minutes even. I have listened to versions taking as long as 11 and-a-half minutes. In my opinion the Masur performance is too fast but that's just me. If you don't own a complete set of Schumann symphonies then this set will serve you well. If you already own a set or two (or more as in my case) then pick this one up anyway on principle alone...the price is quite good.
the London Philharmonic on Teldec are very fine performances.
The inclusion of the 1841 version of the Fourth Symphony is a
nice choice, All the symphonies receive good performances by
Masur and the LPO, my person favorite being the First. Offered
as a Two for One set it is a very good bargin. The only complaint
I have with the set is that there are no liner notes. At least
there were not any in my copy. Other than that this is a good
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