In their series of Allan Pettersson’s symphonies, Christian Lindberg and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra have arrived at the Fourteenth Symphony, completed in 1978 and given its first performance in 1981, one year after the death of the composer.
As several of its predecessors, No. 14 is in one extended movement and is scored for large forces, including an expanded percussion section. But there are also important traits that set it apart.
Pettersson, who had studied twelve-tone composition with René Leibovitz in the early 1950’s, never adopted the technique fully but in the present work the traces are more evident than in his other symphonies.
Included with the new recording is aRead more bonus film produced by Swedish Television after the death of the composer. In the course of the film, here provided with English subtitles, we meet the composer himself, members of his family, colleagues from his time as an orchestral player and musicians such as the violinist Ida Haendel.
Granted, this is not always the easiest music to listen to, but as with Pettersson's other symphonies there’s a clear connective thread beneath the tumult that’s easy enough to follow. As for the more austere writing – the start of the fourth movement, for instance – it has a well-defined shape that’s thrown into sharp relief by the forensic, soul-baring sound. The military drum – sans snare – adds terrific bite to the martial interludes; then, without warning, Pettersson lapses into a strange kind of languor, in which pensive pizzicati alternate with a slow, tolling motif. And in the fifth movement the music’s tendency to rasp and grind is leavened by the absorbing, ‘hear-through’ nature of the recording.
Happily, the symphony’s climactic moments – dense and forbidding as they often are – they arrive in a way that’s not at all rhetorical. Again, there’s an evolutionary and organic aspect to Pettersson’s writing that binds everything together in a most convincing fashion. The sheer focus and commitment of these players – not to mention Lindberg’s sure, steadying hand – certainly make for an eventful and challenging ride. There are no easy answers here, no platitudes or false cheer; that said, the finale brings with it a modicum of rest or, perhaps, an air of quiet stoicism.
Symphony no 14by Allan Pettersson Conductor:
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1978; Sweden
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Anguish, solace, beautyMarch 18, 2017By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"Allan Pettersson's music comes from a place of pain and anguish - a hard childhood under a brute of a father and the lifelong burden of a chronic, debilitating disease - but it's also full of the solace and beauty which comes from the Northern landscape and from reserves within himself. With incredible discipline and strength of purpose Pettersson built an awesome symphonic legacy which rivals that of the great 20th century masters Nielsen, Sibelius, Shostakovich and Prokofiev. "No one in the 1950s noticed that I am always breaking up the structures," he said later in the decade, "that I was creating a whole new symphonic form." By the mid-1970s Pettersson was creating long, complex music in a style of his own that veered between the Sibelian model, atonality, serialism and neo-romanticism, with layers of meaning for those willing to make the effort. This BIS release is part of The Allan Pettersson Project 2013-2018, a joint project with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra and conductor Christian Lindberg that will create a complete cycle to go alongside those by Sergiu Comissiona and Alun Francis. This series is well on the way to establishing supremacy, due to Lindberg's command of Pettersson's underlying structures, his players' virtuosity and musicianship and the clear and lifelike sound provided by BIS. This disc drops on March 3, 2017; it is very highly recommended."Report Abuse