Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The best introduction into Pettersson's dark & serious world

Allan Pettersson: Symphonies 5, 7

Christian Lindberg continues on his way to a new complete Pettersson symphonies cycle for BIS, for The Allan Pettersson Project 2013-2019, a joint project with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra.  It was clear from the previous releases that this is now the set to get, though the symphonies by Sergiu Comissiona and Alun Francis both contain excellent work. The new disc underlines this, especially considering the outstanding 7th Symphony, probably the most popular in the series.

In a lifetime of pain and suffering Allan Pettersson had the great solace of music, and at times he must have seen a road ahead that was less fraught. The premiere of his 5th Symphony in 1963 was quite a success, and contributed to his award of a lifetime minimum income from the Swedish government. His music began to be denigrated, though, not for its modern idiom, but for not being modern enough. Pettersson always seemed out of sync with the world in which he lived, though from today's vantage point this music seems to evoke all of the ambiguities of the post-war world, the echoes of past horrors along with a tentative groping for transcendence.

The 7th Symphony, which had its first performance with Antal Dorati and the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra fifty years ago this fall, in October 1968, was an even greater success, and propelled the work into the orchestral repertoire until today, at least in Sweden and Germany. This is a great work that perhaps provides the best introduction into the rather daunting, dark and serious world of Allan Pettersson.

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