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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Anderson    ORCHESTRAL COLOUR

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At last two Atterberg symphonies have come my way, not at the sacrifice of 598 others, nor to any feeling but increasing curiosity and interest. That Atterberg is a master of orchestral colour is clear from the start of Symphony No 2. The atmosphere is rustic, with a main tune of folkish character and background hints of Valkyries not quite airborne [listen -- track 1, 0:02-1:06]. The symphony was begun in 1911 and originally planned to have only two movements (it was so performed in 1912). The conclusion was to have been a double Adagio sandwich with two Presto fillings. The first Adagio achieves an eloquent sonority, owing much to Atterberg's own instrument, the cello [listen -- track 2, 1:43-2:43]. The succeeding Presto starts innocuously enough, but works itself to a pounding ferocity before subsiding towards a resumption of the slow music [listen -- track 2, 6:13-7:21]. The massive peroration at the end of the movement sounds as final as any symphony needs to. Having achieved this notable Ossa, in 1913 Atterberg devised a towering Pelion with which to storm the heavens as finale.

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Copyright © 23 October 2002 Robert Anderson, London, UK

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