Atterberg: Complete Symphonies / Rasilainen, Et Al
Listening to Kurt Atterberg's symphonies together in sequence (the collection was previously released on five separate discs--type Q1958, Q5032, Q2147, Q3148, and Q6782 in Search Reviews) you're certain to be impressed by the composer's consistently imaginative melodic invention and powerfully effective orchestration. These works are not just footnotes in 20th century symphonic literature, but are real contenders for greatness. While Atterberg doesn't possess the sort of stunning, out-of-nowhere originality of Sibelius (whose music at times Atterberg's resembles), he does make marvelous use of already existing techniques to construct some brilliant, evocative, and always highly enjoyable works.
A strong Nordic strain runs thoughout the symphonies, from the folkish No. 1 to the grandly epic No. 9 "Sinfonia Visionaria". Nos. 2 and 7 both offer captivating narrative drama, while the Fifth ("Sinfonia funebre") uses a cyclic concept in a manner similar to Mahler's Sixth. Probably the most immediately impressive is No. 3, whose second movement is so grippingly cinematic you easily could think the symphony's "West Coast Pictures" subtitle refers to a Hollywood studio. Nos. 4, 6, and 8 present Atterberg's lighter side, with bucolic pleasantries in the Fourth ("Sinfonia piccola") and Sixth, while the Eighth offers Sibelius Sixth-style modal harmonies in crystalline textures.
All nine symphonies (as well as the symphonic poem Alven) feature vivid orchestral writing (the Ninth showcases Atterberg's considerable skill in handling large choral forces), as well as Atterberg's penchant for building perfectly-timed, irresistibly exciting climaxes. Conductor Ari Rasilainen clearly has immersed himself in the composer's world, leading powerful and highly idiomatic performances with the Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Hanover orchestras. CPO maintains consistently spacious, high-impact sound throughout the series. Lovers of the symphony rejoice: here's another mighty nine! [2/24/2005]
– ClassicsToday (Victor Carr Jr)
Catalog Number: 777118-2
Composer: Kurt Atterberg
Conductor: Ari Rasilainen
Orchestra/Ensemble: Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hannover Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, North German Philharmonic Chorus, North German Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Chamber Chorus, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Performer: Gabriel Suovanen, Satu Vihavainen