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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Anderson    ORCHESTRAL COLOUR


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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