About this Recording
8.223404 - ATTERBERG: Violin Sonata / Trio Concertante

Kurt Atterberg (1887- 1974)

Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)


The Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg was born in Göteborg in 1887 and studied the cello at school before entering the Stockholm College of Technology. Qualifying as an engineer in 1911, he took employment with the patent office, continuing there until 1968, from 1936 as principal secretary .He was instrumental in the formation of the Swedish Composers' Society, of which he was president from 1924 until 1947, and of the Swedish Performing Rights Society, in which he occupied a similar position. At the same time he won a reputation as a conductor and critic, as well as in the field of composition. His works include five operas and nine symphonies, forming only part of a considerable output.


Atterberg's B minor Violin Sonata was completed in 1925 and published in 1930 as a sonata for cello, viola or violin and piano, although the composer intended the work originally for his own instrument, the cello. In this form he himself played it in the Organ Hall of the Royal Academy of Music in the early winter of 1925 and a few months later it was performed at an ISCM concert. The first movement follows romantic tradition, while the second is influenced by Swedish folk-lore.


The Two Autumn Ballades that make up Opus 15 were completed in 1918 and constitute the only original work Atterberg wrote for solo piano. The Valse Fantôme of the same year was part of the incidental music written for Maeterlinck's play Sister Beatrice, later scored as an instrumental suite for violin, viola and string orchestra. The solo piano version of the last movement of the suite was made at the request of the ballerina Jenny Hasselquist, who used it to considerable effect in her performances. Originally called Valse monotone, the title Valse Fantôme was eventually chosen as an apt description of the dream-world evoked, too, by Sibelius in his Valse triste.


The Rondeau rétrospectif of 1926 was written for a composer's competition to mark the opening of the new Concert Hall in Stockholm, in addition to a cantata that Atterberg had first intended as his entry. In its various episodes the Rondo offers a satirical view of the history of the Concert Society, from its foundation in 1914. The piece, which the composer did not intend as a serious contender for the prize offered, was completed in difficulties, when Atterberg was suffering from the effects of pneumonia. In the event the jury awarded the first prize to Atterberg's cantata and third prize to the Rondo, which the composer has submitted in the hand-writing of a friend, under the pseudonym Spectator. Carl Nielsen, a member of the jury, later told Atterberg that they had originally wanted to give the rondo second prize, but had decided to give the award to a symphony by Melchers, considering the Rondo not serious enough.


The Rondo starts with a lively representation of the beginning of the Concert Society. Motifs indicating the Ode to Joy and the Eroica Symphony, suggesting the Programme Committee, are combined with melodies of national origin representing Swedish composers, ending in a combination of elements from Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony and Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, the score including references to well known players in the Stockholm orchestra. Towards the end Atterberg quotes part of his own Sixth Symphony and in the episode Conductor's International he refers to the Marseillaise and the well known Heil dir. The Society, in its euphoria, forgets its true purpose and there is laughter and whistling. A passacaglia, based on a "national" ground, leads the music from chaos to dignity, the cacophony dissipated with each succeeding variation, leading to a jazz-influenced ending.


Atterberg completed his Trio Concertante in G minor/C major, for violin, cello and harp, Opus 57, in 1966, a version of his 1960 Double Concerto for violin and cello, commissioned by Swedish Radio. The first performance of the concerto, with its references to Swedish folk music, took place in April 1961 under Ernst Ludwig Jochum.


Stig Jacobsson

(adapted by Keith Anderson)


Eszter Perényi


The Hungarian violinist Eszter Perényi studied at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, winning distinguished prizes in her own country, where she has a distinguished career as a soloist. Abroad she has appeared with various orchestras in the United States of America and in England, where she played with the London Symphony Orchestra in concerts conducted by Erich Leinsdorf and István Kertész, with whom she appeared in Germany, Italy and Sweden. Eszter Perényi was awarded the Hungarian Liszt Prize and the title of Meritorious Artist of the Hungarian Republic. Since 1975 she has taught at the Liszt Academy.


András Kiss


András Kiss was born in Budapest in 1943 and started violin lessons at the age of six. He studied at the Bartók Conservatory, and from 1960 at the Liszt Academy, where his teacher was Tibor Ney. A postgraduate scholarship enabled him to undertake further study under M. Vayman at the Leningrad Conservatory. Aprize-winner in the Leipzig International Bach Competition in 1968, András Kiss was appointed in the same year to the staff of the Liszt Academy, where he continues to teach. As a performer he appears regularly in Hungary and has toured extensively in East and West Europe, the United States and Canada. He is now the first violinist of the New Budapest Quartet.


Ilona Prunyi


Ilona Prunyi was born in Debrecen in 1941 and studied at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, distinguishing herself in the Liszt-Bartók Competition while still a student. Her career as a concert pianist was interrupted by a period of ill-health, and for personal reasons she spent ten years as a teacher at the Academy before making her debut in 1974. Since then she has appeared frequently in solo and chamber music recitals and as a soloist with the principal Hungarian orchestras.


Sándor Falvay


The pianist Sándor Falvay was born in 1949 at Ozd, in Northern Hungary, and studied at Miskolc Conservatory before becoming a pupil of Mihály Bächer at the Liszt Academy in Budapest in 1967. After graduation in 1972 he went to the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, returning the following year to Budapest, where he joined the teaching staff of the Academy. Sándor Falvay has performed in Eastern and Western Europe both as a recitalist and, notably, as soloist with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra during a concert tour of West Germany.


György Kertész


Born in 1963, György Kertész studied music in Budapest, graduating at the Liszt Academy. In 1986 he won the Budapest David Popper Cello Competition and enjoys an active career, particularly as a chamber music player, with a number of recordings to his credit in Hungary and abroad.

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