was of the same generation as Kurt Atterberg. Indeed the two were
friends. He was largely self taught and lacked nothing in confidence
- a quality that brought him into controversy with the musical
establishment of which ultimately he was to form part. He shared
a combative nature with Atterberg and Rangström.
('Dream-Obsessed') is inspired by the poem of the same
name by Nikolaus Lenau. It relates to the German expressionist
school crossed with Rachmaninov whose Isle of the Dead is
echoed in its pages. The Basque Andrés Isasi was studying
in Berlin with Humperdinck during the 1910s and wrote the Berceuse
Tragica and Die Sünde in much the same language.
Pezzo Sinfonico was written as a bet between Atterberg
and Berg to produce the antithesis of the gloomy Scandinavian
symphony. Atterberg produced his Fourth Symphony (Piccola)
while Berg wrote the four movement Pezzo. This is undemanding,
highly skilled and entertaining music skirting around Ketèlbeyan
the year of The Song of Songs was also the year
of Bantock's voluptuous work on the same subject. Bantock's magnum
opus also sets Biblical texts but across 150 minutes rather than
Berg's almost forty minutes. Berg's 'tapestry' is in eight episodes.
He marshals his resources economically. For the most part these
are settings for two voices and orchestra. Unlike the Traumgewalten
Berg seems content to work within the silky bonds of tonality,
at this stage in his career avoiding even the gentlest dissonance.
Certainly he is no Straussian disciple something that cannot be
said of Bantock. The choral and vocal writing is done with utmost
delicacy, almost simplicity, nothing of the complexity of Zemlinsky's
Lyrische Symphonie here nor of Mahler's Das Lied von
der Erde. While neither soloist is denied operatic high spots
(listen to the heroic ring of Zachariassen's voice in tr. 9) the
character of much of the writing avoids the torrid instead exploring
a lower key pastoral simplicity. It is very rarely protesting
or tawdrily dramatic. The eight sections are predominantly folksy
with a pristine lack of sophistication. Karin Ingebäck makes
the links with Brahms' volkslieder (tr.10 5.03). There are also
echoes of Nielsen's Springtime in Fyn and Pfitzner's Von
Deutsche Seele. Notable episodes include, in track 8, sturdy
unison choral singing recalling the treatment of 'Say heart what
will future bring' from John Ireland's These Things Shall Be.
At 3.10 in tr. 8 we hear the characteristic descending Rosenkavalier
chime. Then there is the satiated-tired trudge at 7.20 on tr.6
pre-echoing Nystroem's Sinfonia Del Mare and the contemporary
Delius Requiem. This resigned gait returns with splendid
and all too brief emphasis at the very end of the work.
three works were smoothly recorded in the ample acoustic of the
Berwaldhallen. The booklet is useful though the separation by
ten pages of the English translation of Höga Visan from
the sung original Swedish was a mistake. The only one in this