Atterberg: Orchestral Works, Vol 2 - Järvi
Chandos CHSA 5133
Classical - Orchestral
Atterberg: Symphony No. 2 in F major, Op. 6; Symphony No. 8 in E minor, Op. 48
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Järvi and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra present Vol. 2 in their series of the Symphonies of Atterberg. It is part of a larger recording project focussed on Scandinavian music, which has already seen Neeme Järvi give highly regarded performances of works by the Norwegian composers Halvorsen and Svendsen with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. During his lifetime, Kurt Atterberg was the most renowned Swedish composer both at home and abroad, as well as a successful conductor, critic, and administrator. He was a composer of clearly structured and brightly melodic music, whose large orchestral output includes nine symphonies, of which the Third and Sixth have already been released.
Symphony No. 2 was started in 1911 when the twenty-four-year-old Atterberg was still a student of engineering. It was originally conceived and premiered as a two-movement work, but after a hostile critical response Atterberg added a third movement. Like much of Atterberg’s music the symphony is deeply rooted in tradition, following classical forms closely but filling them with harmonies and melodies inspired by Swedish folk music. Atterberg composed the Eighth Symphony in 1944. It features a rich tapestry of Swedish folk material which Atterberg gave fresh harmonies. A playful, vigorous, and light piece, the symphony was well received at its premiere in 1945, even soliciting a congratulatory telegram from Sibelius.
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Review by Graham Williams - January 27, 2014
This second volume in the Chandos survey of Atterberg symphonies proves to be as successful and enjoyable as the first.
A period of thirty years separates the two symphonies on this latest release, but Atterberg's imaginative use of Swedish folk songs and richly romantic orchestration in both of them prove to be potent combination, making one wonder why these works are not better known.
Symphony No.2 (1911-13) is in three movements – the slow movement incorporating an exciting galloping scherzo. All three have a Straussian sweep and confidence with heroic horn parts very much in evidence throughout. Neeme Järvi and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra give an energetic and supremely confident account of this most attractive symphony. The sound quality is glorious.
Atterberg's 8th Symphony dates from 1944 and shows no signs of being influenced by the catastrophic events engulfing the rest of Europe at the time. Apart from the dark largo introduction to the first movement the music is light and cheerful with memorable folk melodies very much to the fore especially the one from Västmanland with which Atterberg builds the sprightly opening 'Allegro'. The lovely soulful C minor 'Adagio' that follows again uses folk tunes most effectively and the music at times does suggest that of Atterberg's Finnish compatriot Sibelius, who on hearing a broadcast of the work's first performance on Finnish Radio sent the composer a telegram thanking him for his 'wonderfully cogent symphony'.
The final two movements are a sparkling folksy scherzo and a rousing finale based mainly on the 'Kavaljersvisa' (Cavalier Song) whose sentiments of 'it doesn't matter where you go and when you die' are clearly conveyed in the music's forward drive.
Neeme Järvi's invigorating performance could hardly serve the work better as also does the Chandos 5.0 24-bit / 48kHz recording expertly engineered by Lennart Dehn and Torbjörrn Samuelsson.
Recommended without reservation.
Copyright © 2014 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net
Review by Mark Novak - April 1, 2014
The symphonies of Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg (pronounced Atter-berry) are little-known late romantic gems produced in the first half of the 20th century. He was not a prolific composer, producing just 59 published works in his 87 year lifespan making the nine symphonies the cornerstone of his output. Some years back CPO produced an integrale of the symphonies conducted by Ari Rasilainen with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony. Those performances are all very good with decent RBCD sound. Now we have Chandos engaged with Neeme Jarvi and the Gothenburg Symphony with what would appear to be another stab at a complete recording of the symphonies. With symphonies 4 & 6 already released on SACD, this current SACD brings two more to the table – the F major No.2 and the E minor No.8.
Jarvi takes symphony No.2 at a very brisk pace, shaving 10 minutes off of Rasilainen’s time of 41 minutes for this three movement work. It’s a very different piece at those tempos, it sounds more like a serenade than a symphony at this pace, yet both performances hold up for what they are – the music is robust enough to handle it. I tend to prefer the more deliberate tempos which make this music speak with added weight and authority. The symphony is entirely diatonic and well orchestrated.
Jarvi’s take on symphony No.8 is also on the brisk side. In this case, I could not put my hands on the Rasilainen performance but instead I pulled out the Michail Jurowski recording with the Malmo Symphony on Sterling RBCD. No. 8 starts out with a brooding Largo in E minor that leads into an allegro main movement. This is followed by a powerful adagio movement after which things turn brighter in the molto vivo scherzo followed by the con moto finale. Jarvi is also brisk in this symphony, shaving 4 minutes off of Jurowski’s 34 minute timing. Once again, the music can handle the tempo and the piece sounds all the more refreshing to me.
The Chandos recording, engineered by Lennart Dehn (a stalwart of Gothenburg symphony recordings for many years now) and Torbjorn Samuelsson is forthright and clear with a good balance of direct and hall sound. It is typical of recordings made in this hall for years now, no doubt due mainly to Dehn’s presence. The low brasses have heft and weight and the orchestral foundation (cellos, basses and timpani) is firm with a nice amount of bloom. Massed violins have a tendency to sound a bit anonymous but winds and higher brass sound terrific here. Overall, this is a worthy addition of little-recorded repertoire. I look forward to others in this series. Recommended.
Copyright © 2014 Mark Novak and HRAudio.net