Truls Mørk / Kristjan Järvi

Atterberg: Cello Concerto; Brahms/Atterberg: String Sextet in G major

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For years, people have been listening to the wrong piece by Kurt Atterberg. Instead of the Symphony No. 6, the "Dollar Symphony" that won its composer a $10,000 prize in 1927, what people should have been listening to is this Concerto for cello and orchestra. Begun in 1917 and finally completed in 1922, the three-movement work, like most of Atterberg's oeuvre, is written in the Romantic Grand Manner with big tunes, bold virtuosity, and seductive harmonies. Heretofore, the Cello Concerto has only been digitally recorded by cellist Werner Thomas-Mifune with Karl Anton Rickenbacher leading the Berlin Radio Symphony. Their Koch recording was more than serviceable, but gave only hints of the piece's true virtues. Truls Mørk, the great Norwegian cellist with the huge tone and fiery technique, truly believes in Atterberg's music, making the big tunes soar and the intimate moments sing. Backed by Kristjan Järvi, youngest son of Neeme and brother of Paavo, and the Symphony Orchestra of Norrlands Opera, the 50-member ensemble from northern Sweden that plays everything from Mozart to Black Sabbath, Mørk argues passionately and persuasively that Atterberg's concerto is one of the finest works in the cello repertoire -- and convinces. As a coupling, Järvi and the Symphony Orchestra of Norrlands Opera turn in a performance of Atterberg's 1939 string orchestra transcription of Brahms' G major String Sextet that nearly steals the show from Mørk's Cello Concerto. Sounding bigger than a serenade but smaller than a symphony, Atterberg's version of Brahms' Sextet is a completely successful musical experiment and a wholly involving musical experience. The themes sound bigger, the developments sound weightier, the textures sound richer, and, most significantly, the piece itself sounds more extroverted than intimate and more dramatic than lyric. Järvi's conducting is energetic, the SONO's playing is enthusiastic, and their performance here is tremendously exciting. Recorded in lushly detailed and wonderfully evocative sound by producer Rita Hermeyer in June 2004 at the Concert Hall of NorrlandsOperan in Umeå, Sweden, this disc will be a complete surprise and a total delight to anyone who relishes the Romantic Grand Manner.

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