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 evenRead more 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.
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1963-1966; Sweden
Symphony No. 6
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Extraordinary music that is NOT for the faint of March 20, 2014By Mark N. (Oswego, IL)See All My Reviews"Allan Petterssons music is unique. Though he lived to be 79 years old, his output is relatively small and concentrated almost exclusively on orchestral works among which his 15 completed symphonies are the pinnacle (his first and seventeenth symphonies were unfinished though Christian Lindberg has completed and recorded the 1st Symphony for BIS and apparently is doing the same for the 17th). Pettersson suffered from severe arthritis for much of his adult life and to say that this condition had an influence on his music would be an understatement. Much of his symphonic oeuvre is grim and angst-filled. It can be challenging to listen to especially if ones desire is to be lifted up emotionally by the music. The Symphony No.6 is just such a work. As with the rest of his output, the 6th symphony is highly chromatic but never abandons tonality. The work is in a single, hour-long movement which is remarkable in itself until you consider that his 9th and 13th symphonies each are single movements works that run to about 69 minutes! The 6th symphony, after a very somber introduction in the basses, ebbs and flows around short (3-6 note) motifs leading to a forte climax around the half-way point. There are no long melodic lines, no tunes to hum, but there is plenty of drama along the way as rocking motifs give way to orchestral outbursts from the excellent Norrkoping Symphony. This seems like very difficult music to conduct effectively yet Christian Lindberg fully comprehends Petterssons musical idiom. This performance of the 6th seems more cohesive to me than the one conducted by Manfred Trojahn on CPO and the BIS recording is outstanding in its clarity, naturalness and impact. The final measures remind me of Rachmaninovs Isle of the Dead as the music fades away to a rocking motif. It is sublime. If you are looking for uplifting, joyous music to lift your mood, stay away stay very far away from this. But if you can appreciate the deepest utterances of a soul dealing with unrelenting pain then by all means explore this worthy and noble music. It may change you. Highly recommended!"Report Abuse