To all who have sagaciously
picked up on Atterberg’s opulent nationalism
this disc will be an indispensable addition
to the shelves. CPO have already cornered
the Atterberg market with a complete
set of the nine symphonies at bargain
price. When I reviewed that set I pleaded
for his String Symphony to be recorded
and here it is conducted by Ulf Wallin.
per archi (Symphony for Strings)
is a latish work from this long-lived
composer. It derives from his String
Quintet. What a reactionary work this
must have seemed when premiered in the
1950s. The style is approximately between
Sibelius's Sixth Symphony, Tchaikovsky's
Serenade and Frank Bridge's Suite for
Strings. It is a luxuriously romantic
piece across four movements. Camerata
Nordica are recorded in a lively almost
unruly acoustic which allows a gritty,
guttural excitement to be caught alongside
the sentimental whispers and half-lights.
Surely Atterberg was influenced by Wirén's
Serenade for Strings in the second
movement allegro molto and elsewhere.
The influence of Sibelius returns in
the lovely tranquillo which combines
the watercolour delicacy of Sibelius's
Tempest and a sentimental melodic
invention we may now associate with
John Barry. The finale floats and darts
along a middle way between Tippett's
Concerto for Double String Orchestra
and Holst's St Paul’s and
Brook Green suites. The piece
ends in fragile twilight: a pizzicato
figure and a quietly held sigh.
Almost incredibly the
Adagio Amoroso for violin
and strings dates from 1967, his last
work. It is melancholic; sensitive rather
than ardent or passionate - recalling
Sibelius's two serenades and Laetare
anima mea. The three movement Intermezzo
has the air of Elgar's Pomp
and Circumstance march trios and
of Korngold's triumphal music in The
Adventures of Robin Hood - muscular
and noble. The end of the first movement
resonates with the hoarse attack of
Elgar's Introduction and Allegro.
The central adagio is sentimental.
The title of the Prelude
and Fugue suggests dry academicism.
Not a bit of it. This diptych was originally
for organ in 1917 and was then arranged
for strings in 1933. The language is
rich with allusion. This is much closer
to the Sinfonia than to the Intermezzo.
If the Sinfonia has the scale
and weight of say Elgar’s Introduction
and Allegro then the Intermezzo
is the equivalent of the Elgar Serenade.
Atterberg wrote the
Suite No. 7 in 1926, drawing
on music he had written for a stage
production of Shakespeare's Antony
and Cleopatra. The five movements
are splendidly romantic with gleaming
strings; how Stokowski would have revelled
in this! The music suggests Grieg's
Gynt. The final Festivo flies
along, again linking in style with Holst's
Brook Green - bluff and celebratory
- just like the opening alla marcia.
Not to be missed by
Swedish romantics. Beautiful coaxed
and balanced dynamics, subtle and diaphanous
textures contrast with resinous attack.