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Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz - Berg, N.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2

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Berg, N.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2

Natanael Berg

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While the first two symphonies of Carl Natanael Berg are far from progressive works and have little historical significance (they were both composed rather loosely in a four-movement scheme that merely resembles symphonic form and were closer in style and spirit to late Romantic tone poems), they are still worth knowing about, for they elucidate the backward state of Swedish symphonic writing in the early decades of the twentieth century. This was a time when Brahms' symphonies were regarded as the last word on the subject, and Wagner's music was still regarded as too extreme, so it's small wonder that Berg's Symphony No. 1, "Alles endet was entstehet" (1914), and the Symphony No. 2, "Årstiderna" (1916), should be no more daring in form or musical content than the tone poems of Richard Strauss, which they most closely resemble. All the same, Berg's music is formally simplistic, developmentally limited, harmonically clichéd, and melodically shallow. Even in its most actively inventive and involved passages, as in the startling tone-painting of the sinking of the Titanic in the finale of the Symphony No. 1, or the colorfully orchestrated depictions of the seasons in the Symphony No. 2, everything seems contrived primarily for effect and barely connected to any true emotion or original conception. All the same, it is a good thing Ari Rasilainen and the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz have brilliantly performed and recorded these symphonies for CPO, because knowing of their flaws and inadequacies is still preferable to not knowing them at all. Although a major revival of Berg's music is unlikely to be fueled by this release, despite Rasilainen's advocacy and the orchestra's sterling playing, it is worth hearing this disc if only to gain a passing acquaintance with this obscure composer and his ultra-conservative milieu. CPO's sound is rich and spacious, so this is a sonic feast for the ears, even though the music provides little aesthetic sustenance.
© TiVo

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Berg, N.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2

Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz

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Symphony No. 1, "Alles endet was entstehet’" (Natanael Berg)

1
I. Allegro energico
00:11:48

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra - Ari Rasilainen, Conductor

(C) 2009 CPO (P) 2009 CPO

2
II. Andante con moto
00:10:12

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra - Ari Rasilainen, Conductor

(C) 2009 CPO (P) 2009 CPO

3
III. Presto
00:04:16

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra - Ari Rasilainen, Conductor

(C) 2009 CPO (P) 2009 CPO

4
IV. Moderato molto
00:12:51

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra - Ari Rasilainen, Conductor

(C) 2009 CPO (P) 2009 CPO

Symphony No. 2, "Arstiderna" (The Seasons) (Natanael Berg)

5
I. Printemps: Presto
00:06:20

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra - Ari Rasilainen, Conductor

(C) 2009 CPO (P) 2009 CPO

6
II. Sommar: Allegro moderato
00:05:50

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra - Ari Rasilainen, Conductor

(C) 2009 CPO (P) 2009 CPO

7
III. Automme: Lento grave
00:04:42

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra - Ari Rasilainen, Conductor

(C) 2009 CPO (P) 2009 CPO

8
IV. Hiver: Lento
00:04:46

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra - Ari Rasilainen, Conductor

(C) 2009 CPO (P) 2009 CPO

Album Description

While the first two symphonies of Carl Natanael Berg are far from progressive works and have little historical significance (they were both composed rather loosely in a four-movement scheme that merely resembles symphonic form and were closer in style and spirit to late Romantic tone poems), they are still worth knowing about, for they elucidate the backward state of Swedish symphonic writing in the early decades of the twentieth century. This was a time when Brahms' symphonies were regarded as the last word on the subject, and Wagner's music was still regarded as too extreme, so it's small wonder that Berg's Symphony No. 1, "Alles endet was entstehet" (1914), and the Symphony No. 2, "Årstiderna" (1916), should be no more daring in form or musical content than the tone poems of Richard Strauss, which they most closely resemble. All the same, Berg's music is formally simplistic, developmentally limited, harmonically clichéd, and melodically shallow. Even in its most actively inventive and involved passages, as in the startling tone-painting of the sinking of the Titanic in the finale of the Symphony No. 1, or the colorfully orchestrated depictions of the seasons in the Symphony No. 2, everything seems contrived primarily for effect and barely connected to any true emotion or original conception. All the same, it is a good thing Ari Rasilainen and the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz have brilliantly performed and recorded these symphonies for CPO, because knowing of their flaws and inadequacies is still preferable to not knowing them at all. Although a major revival of Berg's music is unlikely to be fueled by this release, despite Rasilainen's advocacy and the orchestra's sterling playing, it is worth hearing this disc if only to gain a passing acquaintance with this obscure composer and his ultra-conservative milieu. CPO's sound is rich and spacious, so this is a sonic feast for the ears, even though the music provides little aesthetic sustenance.
© TiVo

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