|About this Recording
8.553715 - SWEDISH ORCHESTRAL FAVOURITES, VOL. 2
Swedish Orchestral Favourites 2 -Works for chamber orchestra
During his lifetime Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974) was better known abroad than in his home country. Conductors such as Nikisch, Richard Strauss, Furtwängler, Toscanini and Beecham all performed his orchestral works. His fame increased even more when he was awarded first prize in an international Schubert competition in 1928, with his so-called Dollar Symphony. A decade or so later, he worked as a conductor at the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Stockholm, where he composed a considerable amount of incidental music, for this and other theatres in the capital. These included the Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck's miracle play Sister Beatrice, which was staged at the Intima Teatern in 1918. The play tells the story of a nun who is abducted by her loved one from the convent where she has retired. The Virgin Mary herself takes her place without the community realising it. Towards the end of her life, the nun returns to the convent, deeply remorseful for having given up her life as a servant of God for her own worldly love.
From his stage music for Sister Beatrice, originally scored for violin, viola, and organ, Atterberg in 192] formed a Suite (No.3) from three movements, at the same time augmenting the scoring for string orchestra. This beautiful music now belongs with Atterberg's most frequently performed works. The second movement, Pantomime, from the second act of the play, starts of with a sort of chorale, which is also heard at the end, giving an indication of the sacred mood of the play, but the main part of the movement is is taken by a romantic episode which represents the nun's love for her loved one. The last movement, Vision, is a waltz fantasy, originally used as the prelude to the third act of the play. Its mood is slightly reminiscent of Sibelius' Valse Triste.
Ture Rangstrom (1884-1947) was about the same age as Atterberg, in the generation of composers following Peterson-Berger, Stenbammer and Alfven, He is most highly regarded for his more than 200 songs, but he also composed works in other genres, among them operas and four symphonies. In his compositions, he was highly influenced by literature, and of special importance to him was August Strindberg. He was also strongly drawn to the art of E. T. A. Hoffmann, with its romantic fantastiquerie. In the score of his string quartet the name of Hoffmann is in fact inscribed, but he was of great importance also for the genesis of Rangström's Divertimento elegiaco. This dark mood music was composed in a few days in August 1918, and the first performance was conducted by Carl Nielsen.
Few Swedish composers have been dearer to the heart of the people than Lars-Erik Larsson (1908-1986). His broad popularity is due mainly to a handful of works from the 1930s, especially the Pastoral Suite. The word 'pastoral' is something Larsson often used for other works and movements and even when the actual word is not there, the music often has a pastoral character. This is also true of the less frequently heard Lyric Fantasy, Op 54. It was composed to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the music publishers who at that time handled his music. Even rarer is Larsson's Adagio for string orchestra, Op. 48. Being a neo-classicist, in the tradition of Haydn and Mozart, it would be alien to him to give vent to personal discomfort or worries in his music. Nothing is known about the background to this Adagio, but there can be no real doubt that the mood of the music is one of sorrow and pain. The final chord, in the major key, might be seen as containing some hope and comfort for a troubled heart.
Little Serenade for string orchestra, Op. 12 is a very characteristic name for a piece by the typically modest Lars-Erik Larsson. Good entertainment, in the form of a pastiche and in an 18th century manner, typifies his serenades and divertimentos. He would never risk becoming boring by going on too long, and he very often used diminutive forms for the names of his works: Sinfonietta, Sonatina, Concertino, Little Serenade etc Larsson wrote his Op. 12 in all haste for the Gävleborg Orchestral Society, and he conducted the first performance himself at Gävle on 7th March 1934. A couple of years earlier his international breakthrough came at the ISCM Festival in Florence with his comparatively austere and formal Sinfonietta. With the Little Serenade he now chose to place himself closer to his idol Mozart: "I wanted to compose more simply, more gently and airily... in fact what I wanted to do was to put the law of gravity out of action."
Among the leading Swedish composers of the 1930s, beside Lars-Erik Larsson and Dag Wiren, is Gunnar de Frumerie (1908-1987). He differs from the others in daring to display a romantic disposition, and with a rich sound and an emotional musical language he liked to keep within the bounds of the traditional classical forms, often borrowing them from the Baroque era. Especially early on in his career, he was fond of using this kind of archaic style. The best example of this is his Pastaral Suite for flute, string orchestra and harp, Op. 13b. It was written in 1933, originally for flute and piano, but it is now more often performed in the version which de Frumerie prepared in 1941 and it is this version which is heard in the present recording.
Karl-Birger Blomdahl (1916-1968) and his colleagues in the so-called Monday Group, mainly Back, Johanson and Lidholm, were first heard of at the end of the Second World War, when they rather aggressively advocated a more modernistic tonal language than the neo-classical style used by many composers of the 1930s. However, that there was a romantic streak even to the young Blomdahl is clearly evident from the Adagio, taken from Helge Akerhielm's play The Wakeful Night. The setting is the 17th century and its witch hunts. The music was composed for the first night of the play at the Dramatikerstudion in the autumn of 1945. From it, Blomdahl assembled a little suite which starts and ends with this sad Adagio, melodically, it could be said, with its roots in Swedish folk music.
The Swedish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) is Scandinavia's only full-time professional chamber orchestra. Its home is the beautifully appointed Orebro Concert Hall situated in the historic centre of Orebro. The SCO has a busy schedule, currently giving some 130 performances a year divided between subscription concerts, school concerts and tours both national and international. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra has developed rapidly, attracting increasing attention from international conductors and soloists. During the autumn of 1996 the SCO completed a European tour together with Barbara Hendricks and the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, under the leadership of Eric Ericson. In 1997 the orchestra toured Spain and Norway, and in 1998 Germany and the USA. Thomas Dausgaard is Principal Conductor of the SCO. For Naxos the orchestra has made a number of recordings conducted by Petter Sundkvist and Niklas Willen. With Petter Sundkvist it has begun the first integral recording of the Complete symphonies of Joseph Martin Kraus. The first release in this series was awarded the Cannes Classical Award in January 1999, the first time a Swedish orchestra has received this prestigious prize, awarded by a jury consisting of representatives of leading record magazines all over the world.
Close the window