Classical CD Reviews

NATANAEL BERG: Reverenza; Suite: The Suitors of the Duchess; Symphony No. 3 “Makter” (Forces) – Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/ Ari Rasilainen – CPO

The 22-minute ballet score is very genial and light-hearted, colorful and quite rhythmic.

Published on June 2, 2010

NATANAEL BERG: Reverenza; Suite: The Suitors of the Duchess; Symphony No. 3 “Makter” (Forces) – Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/ Ari Rasilainen – CPO

NATANAEL BERG: Reverenza; Suite: The Suitors of the Duchess; Symphony No. 3 “Makter” (Forces) – Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/ Ari Rasilainen – CPO 777 325-2, 52:36 [Distr. by Naxos] ****½:

Berg, who lived until 1957, had a major influence on the Swedish music scene in the first half of the 20th century.  Then as now, it was difficult to earn a living as a composer in Sweden. One has to have another profession. Natanael Berg worked as a veterinarian; he was responsible for the Crown’s horses.  To improve himself, he contacted Wilhelm Stenhammar and received some support from him. In the beginning of the 1910’s he began to take part in Swedish musical life, dedicating himself to the late romantic orchestra, influenced mostly by Richard Strauss. His virtuosic instrumental artistry was recognized.

The first track here, Reverenza, was a 1949 composition celebrating conductor Amas Järnfeldt on his 80th birthday. It has a colorful and celebratory air about it.  The suite is from Berg’s music for a Spanish-flavored ballet about about a duchess wooed by a succession of four suitors. In the first section she disguises herself as one of her ladies-in-waiting and captivates the suitors with a fiery gypsy dance. The 22-minute score is very genial and light-hearted, colorful and quite rhythmic.

Berg’s Third Symphony of 1917 has two movements, for Man and for Woman. Whether Berg succeeds in transforming his idea into programmatic music a la Richard Strauss, this is an interesting work with captivating melodies and expressive sounds. It is obviously of more serous mien than the previous suite, but provides interesting listening in this fine performance by one of Scandinavia’s leading orchestras.

 - John Sunier




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