WORKS: Piano Concerto in B flat minor; Violin Concerto in E minor
PERFORMER: Dan Franklin Smith (piano), Christian Bergqvist (violin); Gävle SO/B Tommy Andersson
CATALOGUE NO: CDS-1034-2
Berwald’s Concerto is an early work, whose ideas are fluent and attractive, very much in the Spohr mould. There’s excellent playing from Tobias Ringborg, though the first movement sounds undervitalised when put beside Tellefsen (EMI). The two Stenhammar pieces are rarities and sound persuasive in his hands. Apart from Christian Bergqvist’s disc on Musica Sveciae, this newcomer is the only current version of Tor Aulin’s well-crafted C minor concerto. A decent performance and good, well-balanced recorded sound.
The estimable Sterling label brings us two Atterberg premieres: the Violin Concerto is from his mid-twenties; the Piano Concerto was begun in 1927 before he embarked on the Sixth Symphony (the so-called Dollar Symphony since it won the Schubert Centenary prize) but put on one side until the mid-Thirties. Those who know and admire the symphony or the poignant Suite No. 3 for viola and strings will find the Piano Concerto pure kitsch. It is inflated and overblown, not dissimilar in style, say, to the Bliss Piano Concerto. The keyboard rhetoric is unremitting and the ideas either unmemorable or, in the case of the finale, downright banal. To be fair, others may warm to the piece more than I do, and Dan Franklin Smith is a dazzling soloist. The rhapsodic Violin Concerto is far more imaginative even if it is no masterpiece. The sound picture is somewhat shallow and the bass light in both works, and either the microphone placing or the acoustic lends a certain hardness at times to Christian Bergqvist’s tone in the Violin Concerto. Robert Layton