Author Topic: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)  (Read 21817 times)

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Offline Guido

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Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« on: March 18, 2009, 06:38:13 AM »
Again, this thread has been prompted by my listening of this composer's cello concerto. It is a fantastic work - Highly romantic, approximately contemporaneous with Elgar's cello concerto, sharing in that piece's sense of resignation and nostalgia for an age that has past, but it is a more delicate work perhaps, more interesting harmonically to my ears, every bit as beautiful and very well written for the cello, even if the melodies are not quite as instantly memorable. I know which I'd prefer to hear in the concert hall. Incidentally, I got this CD ages ago, listened to it once and it made absolutely no impression on me. Just saw it on the shelf today and thought I'd give it another try. I'm so glad I did!

There's a nice boxed set of his symphonies which is sorely tempting after this work, but I can't buy everything! Is he consistent enough to warrant furthur exploration?

I should note that the cello sonata on the same CD is also very fine.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2009, 12:30:18 PM by Guido »
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Offline Guido

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2009, 07:03:46 AM »
Yes both of these works are some of the most beautiful pieces in the cello repertoire - and I know the cello repertoire! How did this not make a huge impression on me the first time. I often dispair at my younger self!
« Last Edit: March 18, 2009, 07:13:30 AM by Guido »
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nut-job

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2009, 07:11:55 AM »
Many rediscovered obscure composers are a disappointment, it becomes clear why they were so readily forgotten.  Not so for Atterberg.  I have all of the installments in the cpo symphony cycle and thoroughly enjoyed every one of them.   The symphonies are full of stirring themes, with vibrant orchestration and extremely rich, sometimes dissonant harmonies.  They are not particularly "modern" and if I had to make a comparison I'd say they have something of the texture of early Sibelius (of the second symphony).  I recommend them without reservation.  (I'm just sorry I ended up with the individual cpo discs rather than the complete set, which would have saved me some money.)

Offline Guido

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2009, 07:14:20 AM »
It goes on the list then! 5 CDs for 25 is not at all bad, especially in repertoire this obscure.
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2009, 10:11:22 AM »
There are a lot of Atterberg admirers on this forum, Guido, and his symphonies have frequently featured in the 'What Are You Listening To?'  thread. He has also been mentioned quite a lot in the Scandinavian composers thread.

As nut-job says he is a composer of real attraction. Atterberg was one of the last of the Swedish romantic nationalists. His successors-Gosta Nystroem and Hilding Rosenberg-absorbed more of the influences of 20th century developments in music from mainland Europe whereas Atterberg stayed true to a broadly conservative and romantic idiom. The symphonies however are consistently melodic and extremely attractive but do rise above the stuffily conventional works by lesser romantic composers.

The first five symphonies, dating from 1909-22, come from the highpoint of the Swedish romantic tradition, and are each extremely distinguished representatives, more than fit to sit alongside those of, say, Alfven. No. 6 is the famous 'Dollar Symphony' which won the $10,000 first prize in the 1928 Competition organized by the Columbia Gramophone Company. Nos. 7 and 8 come from the 1940s and are both big works, splendidly grand at times(although No.8 is a trifle bombastic I suppose); No.7 reuses material from an opera and was premiered in Germany during World War Two, No.8 uses a lot of Swedish folk material. Symphony No.9, the choral 'Sinfonia Visionaria', was composed in 1955-56 but, on this occasion, I do think that Atterberg's ambitions overstretch his talent and I was disappointed by the work.

Atterberg lived a long time and by his death in 1974 had seen his music completely overtaken by modern developments in music-which caused him some bitterness. He was a very influential figure on the Swedish musical scene and-amazingly, kept up his day job as a departmental head in the Swedish Patent Office until his retirement at the age of 80!

You should not be disappointed by the excellent CPO set-although, to be honest, the only symphony I have from that particular set is No.9. I had acquired the others in an assortment of recordings by Swedish labels.

greg

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2009, 12:10:57 PM »
I think what would've helped Atterberg not be so obscure in the first place is a couple of things-
-Be German instead of Swedish
-Be less melodically concentrated- meaning, stay away from focusing on folk themes

Probably would've helped a little.  ;D

That's what he does with his earlier symphonies, but later uses more and more folk material as he goes on. The 1st 3 symphonies are extremely impressive, and there's much to like later, but in my opinion, the rest generally aren't as good as the first 3 (though i do like 7 a lot). Also, 9 is just strange..... i do like it, but at the same time- wtf?

Offline donaldopato

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2009, 02:13:18 PM »
Add me as an Atterberg admirer. The 3rd is a wonderful of tone painting and musical drama.

I do agree that the choral 9th has alluded me but may need to get it out and work through it again.
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Offline Guido

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2009, 02:40:43 PM »
Also, 9 is just strange..... i do like it, but at the same time- wtf?

What an eloquent music critic you make Greg!  ;D ;D
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2009, 10:53:52 PM »
I have the disc of Atterberg symphonies 3 and 6, and I love 'em both. Did I just get lucky and acquire the best disc of the cycle, or are the other symphonies this good?

BTW, the composers Atterberg most reminds me of are R. Strauss and (a little strange, I admit) Elgar.
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2009, 05:20:49 AM »
I have the disc of Atterberg symphonies 3 and 6, and I love 'em both. Did I just get lucky and acquire the best disc of the cycle, or are the other symphonies this good?

BTW, the composers Atterberg most reminds me of are R. Strauss and (a little strange, I admit) Elgar.

Actually, I am not sure that Atterberg's 6th is as good as some of the earlier symphonies but if you love it then you would certainly take to the others :) The Symphony No.2, No.4 'Sinfonia piccola' and No.5 'Sinfonia funebre' are all lovely works with some delightful ideas.

I would particularly recommend the Sinfonia piccola. Atterberg and his friend, Natanael Berg got fed up with the accusation from the critics that Swedish symphonies were too long-winded and gloomy(which is an odd charge really because I have never thought of Alfven or Peterson-Berger as gloomy!). So both composers decided to write a 20 minute symphony with a prominent part for the bass tuba which would dispel that impression.
Atterberg's 4th clocks in at 20 minutes but Berg's 4th is 22 minutes long(for which he was fined 20 Swedish crowns ;D)

greg

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2009, 02:53:43 PM »
What an eloquent music critic you make Greg!  ;D ;D
;D ;D
I say that because I don't really know what to think- it's so different from the other symphonies, being 13 movements long, much meaner, and excessively repetitive instead of just plain repetitive.  I also think it sounds cool, but if you think about it for a minute, doesn't the music awfully close to something written for a villain in a Disney movie?   :-[:-X

sul G

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2009, 02:58:22 PM »
Then don't think about it for a minute then  ;D

greg

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2009, 05:49:44 PM »
Well, there you go- problem solved. Luke always is handy, isn't he?

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2009, 12:21:23 AM »
Actually, I am not sure that Atterberg's 6th is as good as some of the earlier symphonies but if you love it then you would certainly take to the others :) The Symphony No.2, No.4 'Sinfonia piccola' and No.5 'Sinfonia funebre' are all lovely works with some delightful ideas.

I found on YouTube some movements from Atterberg's symphonies, and listened to the slow mvts. of symphonies 2 & 5. Good stuff, if a bit bombastic (I thought of Strauss again, and Mahler too). Atterberg is another of those composers who could become a crowd-pleaser if only orchestras would bother to play his music!
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Offline Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2009, 03:58:13 AM »
I love Atterbergs Syms #3, 5,6,7,8 .. in that order. Yeah, #3 is my favourite. Great and tragic Lento in #5. Only the acoustics on the CPO release are very sharp.

greg

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2009, 01:31:33 PM »
I love Atterbergs Syms #3, 5,6,7,8 .. in that order. Yeah, #3 is my favourite. Great and tragic Lento in #5. Only the acoustics on the CPO release are very sharp.
Oh yeah! My favorite is also the 3rd!  ;D
In this order: 3, 7, 2, 1, 8, 9, 4, 6, 5...

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2009, 03:30:46 AM »
I would say go for the boxed set. The symphonies are consistently good and the slow movement of Symphony No 8 is hauntingly beautiful. No 3 the 'West Coast Pictures' is another favourite. I have a few problems with Atterberg being very popular in Nazi Germany (Symphony No 7 being premiered in Frankfurt am Main in 1943) but that is my own stuff.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Guido

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2009, 04:38:45 AM »
The boxed set should be arriving any day!
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2009, 11:30:24 AM »
The boxed set should be arriving any day!

You wont be disappointed. It's a great, inexpensive, way to discover them. Then you can go on to the Petterson-Berger symphonies box set  ;D
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2009, 11:44:25 AM »
You wont be disappointed. It's a great, inexpensive, way to discover them. Then you can go on to the Petterson-Berger symphonies box set  ;D

Nah.....Holmboe first ;D

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