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Pettersson: Violin Concerto No 2 / Swedish Radio So, Et Al

Release Date: 01/30/2007 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777199   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Allan Pettersson
Performer:  Isabelle van Keulen
Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

PETTERSSON Violin Concerto No. 2 Isabella van Keulen (vn); Thomas Dausgaard, cond; Swedish RSO cpo 777199 (55:21)

Andreas K. W. Meyer’s notes provide a timeline for the life of Allan Petterson (1911–1980), “orchestra violinist, composer, oddball.” In any event, he cast his Second Violin Concerto in one, almost hour-long, movement (the recording has been divided into 10 tracks for those who might want to study specific sections). Its elfin opening, with swirling tonal parts in the upper registers surrounding Read more the stratospheric solo, provides little preparation for the dense textures to come. If these seem to lack transparency, listeners should be aware that van Keulen and Dausgaard play the Concerto in a “revised version,” in which the composer supposedly significantly lightened the original. It may be no accident that this dense undergrowth continuously threatens to drown the solo part, the brilliant writing of which could hold its own with an accompaniment less aggressively dense than this one. After the tonality evaporates along with the mood of the early measures (only to return satisfyingly at the end), the piece might be taken to resemble in its textures Penderecki’s First Concerto, but the solo seems more idiomatic, and ingratiating, too, in Pettersson’s work; there’s more flirtation, however fleeting, with tonality, for example at the a tempo at figure 41 in the score (the designation of the fourth track) and even more strikingly through most of the a tempo of the seventh and at the beginning of the cantando, tempo IV of the eighth and ninth tracks—and, throughout, woodwind sonorities highlight many passages. Meyer relates that Ida Haendel, the dedicatee, gave the work its premiere on January 25, 1980 (it had been composed between 1977 and 1979).

It might not strike most listeners that Pettersson based the Concerto on a poem, God Goes over the Meadows , and his own musical setting of it. The text continues (in Susan Marie Praeder’s translation), “but only between thistles,” and this line may offer some insight into the work’s thickets of thorns and brambles. Meyer points out that his song’s folk-like style provided the “material point of departure.” So the intermittent tonality and passages of simpler, less entangled, lyricism may hearken to this fons et origo . Whatever lies at the center of this massive Concerto, however, its accessibility to audiences may depend less upon it than upon the composer’s ear for striking sonorities, for dramatic contrasts, and for soaring, effective writing for the solo instrument. Since Pettersson wrote his First Violin Concerto, according to the notes, in 1949, for Violin and String Quartet, this one represents a quantum leap into complex sonorities while remaining within the genre of the Violin Concerto. Adventurous listeners should find the work, the performance by both soloist and orchestra, and the wide-ranging and stark recorded sound especially rewarding. Strongly recommended to them.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin no 2 by Allan Pettersson
Performer:  Isabelle van Keulen (Violin)
Conductor:  Thomas Dausgaard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; Sweden 
Venue:  Live  Berwald Hall, Stockholm, Sweden 
Length: 55 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Notes: Berwald Hall, Stockholm, Sweden (03/26/1999 - 03/27/1999) 

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