Sunday, October 21, 2001

What do the following composers have in common?

Florence Price
Giuseppe Becce
Ernst Toch
Heino Eller
Kurt Atterberg
Max Trapp
Sigmund Romberg
and last (but not least)
Heitor Villa-Lobos

Well, they were all born in the same year: 1887. I found that out by going to a very useful online resource:
Klassika - die deutschspachigen Klassikseiten.

I'm afraid that the only exact contemporary I know at all well is the Swede Kurt Atterberg. I find his neo-classic 4th Symphony quite charming (along with his 1st, it's on a cpo CD with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ari Rasilainen (catalogue number : 999639). Another marvellous CD is Koch-Schwann's coupling of Atterberg's Cello Sonata and Cello Concerto (with Werner Thomas-Mifune, cello, Carmen Piazzini, piano, and the Berlin RSO conducted by Karl Anton Rickenbacher - catalogue 3-1585-2). BIS-1024 has the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jun'ichi Hirokami performing the 6th Symphony - another lovely piece - the work that brought Atterberg his greatest fame (it was recorded by Toscanini).

Is this music at all like Villa-Lobos? There's a tension in Atterberg's music between classical and romantic that seems very reminiscent of Villa-Lobos. Atterberg and Villa-Lobos share a common gift for melody and an interest in folk music. If you agree with Messiaen, who said that Villa-Lobos was the most gifted of 20th century orchestrators, you might put Atterberg not too far behind. There's an interesting review of the Koch-Schwann disc in Gramophone magazine that points in this direction:

" the finale some of the orchestral writing points (briefly but remarkably) towards Villa-Lobos!"

There's a modernist side to Villa-Lobos, though, that Atterberg doesn't share.

Atterberg lived until 1974 - 25 years longer than Villa-Lobos, though his greatest works seem to have been written by the time VL died in 1959. I'm looking forward to listening to more of his music.

No comments:

Post a Comment