Swedish Orchestral Favourites, Vol. 2 (Johanna Persson/ Petter Sundkvist/ Sara Troback/ Sarah Lindloff/ Swedish Chamber Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.553715)
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Swedish Orchestral Favourites 2 -Works for chamberorchestra
During his lifetime Kurt Atterberg(1887-1974) was better known abroad than in his home country. Conductors suchas Nikisch, Richard Strauss, Furtwangler, Toscanini and Beecham all performedhis orchestral works. His fame increased even more when he was awarded firstprize in an international Schubert competition in 1928, with his so-called DollarSymphony. A decade or so later, he worked as a conductor at the RoyalDramatic Theatre of Stockholm, where he composed a considerable amount ofincidental music, for this and other theatres in the capital. These includedthe Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck's miracle play Sister Beatrice, whichwas staged at the Intima Teatern in 1918. The play tells the story of a nun whois abducted by her loved one from the convent where she has retired. The VirginMary herself takes her place without the community realising it. Towards theend of her life, the nun returns to the convent, deeply remorseful for havinggiven up her life as a servant of God for her own worldly love.
From his stage music for SisterBeatrice, originally scored for violin, viola, and organ, Atterberg in 192]formed a Suite (No.3) from three movements, at the same time augmentingthe scoring for string orchestra. This beautiful music now belongs withAtterberg's most frequently performed works. The second movement, Pantomime,from the second act of the play, starts of with a sort of chorale, which isalso heard at the end, giving an indication of the sacred mood of the play, butthe main part of the movement is is taken by a romantic episode whichrepresents the nun's love for her loved one. The last movement, Vision, isa 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 thesame age as Atterberg, in the generation of composers followingPeterson-Berger, Stenbammer and Alfven, He is most highly regarded for his morethan 200 songs, but he also composed works in other genres, among them operasand four symphonies. In his compositions, he was highly influenced byliterature, and of special importance to him was August Strindberg. He was alsostrongly drawn to the art of E. T. A. Hoffmann, with its romanticfantastiquerie. In the score of his string quartet the name of Hoffmann is infact inscribed, but he was of great importance also for the genesis ofRangstrom's Divertimento elegiaco. This dark mood music was composed ina few days in August 1918, and the first performance was conducted by CarlNielsen.
Few Swedish composers have been dearer tothe heart of the people than Lars-Erik Larsson (1908-1986). His broadpopularity is due mainly to a handful of works from the 1930s, especially the PastoralSuite. The word 'pastoral' is something Larsson often used for other worksand movements and even when the actual word is not there, the music often has apastoral character. This is also true of the less frequently heard LyricFantasy, Op 54. It was composed to celebrate the 75th anniversary of themusic publishers who at that time handled his music. Even rarer is Larsson's Adagiofor string orchestra, Op. 48. Being a neo-classicist, in the tradition ofHaydn and Mozart, it would be alien to him to give vent to personal discomfortor 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 sorrowand pain. The final chord, in the major key, might be seen as containing somehope and comfort for a troubled heart.
Little Serenade for string orchestra, Op.
12 is a very characteristic name for a piece bythe typically modest Lars-Erik Larsson. Good entertainment, in the form of apastiche and in an 18th century manner, typifies his serenades anddivertimentos. He would never risk becoming boring by going on too long, and hevery 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 Gavleborg Orchestral Society, and he conducted the firstperformance himself at Gavle on 7th March 1934. A couple of years earlier hisinternational breakthrough came at the ISCM Festival in Florence with his comparativelyaustere and formal Sinfonietta. With the Little Serenade he nowchose to place himself closer to his idol Mozart: "I wanted to composemore simply, more gently and airily... in fact what I wanted to do was to putthe law of gravity out of action."
Among the leading Swedish composers of the1930s, beside Lars-Erik Larsson and Dag Wiren, is Gunnar de Frumerie(1908-1987). He differs from the others in daring to display a romanticdisposition, and with a rich sound and an emotional musical language he likedto keep within the bounds of the traditional classical forms, often borrowingthem from the Baroque era. Especially early on in his career, he was fond ofusing this kind of archaic style. The best example of this is his PastaralSuite for flute, string orchestra and harp, Op. 13b. It was written in1933, originally for flute and piano, but it is now more often performed in theversion which de Frumerie prepared in 1941 and it is this version which isheard in the present recording.
Karl-Birger Blomdahl (1916-1968) and hiscolleagues in the so-called Monday Group, mainly Back, Johanson andLidholm, were first heard of at the end of the Second World War, when theyrather aggressively advocated a more modernistic tonal language than theneo-classical style used by many composers of the 1930s. However, that therewas 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 isthe 17th century and its witch hunts. The music was composed for the firstnight 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.
Sarah Lindloff was born in 1963. Shestudied at the Stockholm College of Music, gaining a diploma in chamber musicperformance. Since 1989 Sarah Lindloff has devoted much of her time to the windensemble Omnibus Karnmarblasare and the Uppsala Chamber Orchestra. She appearsfrequently as a soloist, and is also a member of the MA Ensemble, whichspecialises in performance of contemporary music.
Sara Troback was born in Orebro in 1978and started playing the violin at the age of five. She studied at theConservatory in Gothenburg with Tibor Ftilep, taking part in masterclasses withYehudi Menuhin, Maxim Vengerov and Cho-Liang Lin among others. Since 1996 hasstudied at the Royal Academy of Music with Gyorgy Pauk. In addition to concertsand festivals in her native Sweden, she has performed frequently abroad,throughout Europe and in China, as well as making several appearances ontelevision.
Johanna Persson was born in 1970 in Boras,near Gothenburg. She studied the viola with Ake Arvinder at the Conservatory inGothenburg and then with Bruno Giuranna at the Hochschule der Ktinste inBerlin. In 1994 Johanna Persson was appointed principal viola of the GothenburgOpera Orchestra. In addition to her work with the Opera Orchestra, JohannaPerss