ATTERBURG; RANGSTRÖM String Quartets
The compositional history of Atterberg’s quartets is not straightforward. The First, Op 2, was composed in 1907 08 but Atterberg was not satisfied with it, discarding the outer movements. The central Scherzo and Romance were retained and in 1937 he composed a bracing new opening Allegro (using a theme from a student quartet) and closing Allegro deciso finale. Atterberg’s style did not change much over time, so he was able to get away with the mild discontinuity of the middle movements. The Stenhammar Quartet render it splendidly.
By this time, he had composed his second Quartet in B minor (1916), for long referred to just as ‘String Quartet, Op 11’, which is how it was issued on a Swedish Society LP and CD long ago in a vivid account by the Saulesco Quartet. (There is also a truncated recording on Caprice.) The new account by the Stenhammar Quartet is by a distance the front-runner: their tone, aided by CPO’s warm and vibrant recording, is richer than their rivals and they catch its late-Romantic atmosphere superbly well.
The filler is no mere makeweight but the only contribution to the medium by Ture Rangström, ‘A Nocturne in the manner of ETA Hoffmann’ (1909). Hoffmann inspired a number of Rangström’s works over the next 10 years. More a suite than a sonata structure, it is dedicated to Nielsen, who oversaw its composition from a distance; the version recorded here is that published posthumously and co-edited by Kallstenius and…Atterberg.