Another great Atterberg release
Russ | Richmond, VA | 08/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I became acquainted with the music of the Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974) about six years ago through a recording of the seventh and eight symphonies on the CPO label (Kurt Atterburg: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 8). The fiery passion and intense lyricism of Atterberg's music was unlike anything I had heard. Ever sense that purchase I have been a tremendous fan of Atterberg's music and have subsequently acquired virtually every Atterberg release available. So I was definitely excited when I saw that BIS was recording Atterberg's cello concerto (1922).
I suppose when you have heard so many works by one composer, it is difficult not to come to a new work from that composer without some type of expectation. Coming from that standpoint, this work was not quite what I expected, and at first, I was slightly disappointed with the concerto. Don't get me wrong, the cello concerto is a fantastic work, and Atterberg, as a cellist understood the nature of the instrument well, but the concerto's rhapsodic style is a bit unlike Atterberg's other compositions. Each of the three movements is played without a break, and the melodic ideas, while lyrical, are less defined and memorable in comparison to, say, the violin concerto (Kurt Atterberg: Violin Concerto; Concert Overture) or any of the symphonies. I also feel that I should mention that the soloist's breathing is quite audible in this recording, which may irritate some listeners. Nevertheless, after several listenings, I can indicate that the concerto is an enjoyable work, containing rousing melodic gestures, turbulent climaxes and a memorable conclusion.
Atterberg's 1939 string orchestra arrangement of Brahms' String Sextet No. 2 serves as the concerto's companion on this release. I really have no reservations about this charming work or Atterberg's lush orchestration of it. This version remains true to the original, yet brings a new prospective to the work. The melodic line remains Brahmsian, but Atterberg's orchestration gives the work a more pastoral, or even dreamy, texture. There really isn't a whole lot more to say here other than I really enjoyed this work.
If you are unfamiliar with Atterberg's oeuvre, I would recommend that you start with the symphonies over this release. In a musical vacuum, I probably would have no reservations about the material here, but in comparison to the releases on CPO, the cello concerto, while great, is slightly less engaging. But if you have been acquiring the previously issued works of this highly underrated composer, definitely acquire this disc!