Notes and Editorial Reviews
Who ever knew that music could capture such a wide range of negative emotion? Allan Pettersson’s Sixth runs the gamut from sad, tragic, wrathful, miserable, and stormy, to neurotic, stressful, dismal, pained, vicious, and sepulchral. What it never sounds is happy, though as we all know there often is much beauty in misery, and Pettersson finds quite a bit of it. Just how much is too much depends on your individual taste, but I find his music obstinately compelling once in a while.
The Sixth belongs among Pettersson’s most mature and iconic works, though it was eclipsed by the popularity (relatively speaking) of its two successors. The work’s single movement lasts almost exactly an hour. Between its gloomy opening and even
gloomier conclusion, you will find a vast range of tempo and sonority, including several of those brass and percussion pile-ups built out of short but catchy motives that make Pettersson’s music so gut-wrenchingly powerful. For all its textural complexity, the musical argument is surprisingly direct and easy to follow. You just have to get used to the length, never mind the emotional ambiance.
Speaking of which, this is one hell of a performance (in a good sense). Pettersson makes ridiculous demands on the orchestra, especially the strings, who have to sustain the music’s unrelenting intensity virtually without interruption. Kudos to Lindberg and the Norrköping players for pulling it off so handsomely–certainly better on the whole than the competition on CPO, decent though that is. BIS’s typically superb SACD sonics illuminate the music’s every dark corner and crevice. This is just the antidote to a sunny day.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 6 by Allan Pettersson
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1963-1966; Sweden
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