Allen Pettersson – Symphony No. 12 delivers emotionally

This is not music for the faint of heart. Allan Pettersson’s 12th Symphony delivers almost a solid hour of unrelenting outrage and compassion for the downtrodden of society. And even if you don’t understand the words the chorus is singing, the singers’ delivery gives you their emotional impact.
Petterson set nine of Pablo Neruda’s poems (in Swedish translation). The composer was working on the symphony when Neruda was killed in 1973, caught up in a Chilean military coup. Significantly, the poems were inspired by a fatal demonstration by Chilean workers in 1946.
Petterson, who came from a working-class background, connected emotionally with Neruda’s poetry. And that connection is apparent in this symphony.
The work is a single movement, although each poem has sort of its own section. Pettersson’s in top form, here. The orchestra has a big, powerful sound, and the chorus is expansive in both texture and harmonies.
Christian Lindberg’s superb traversal of Pettersson’s symphonies has prepared him well. This is a complex work. It places great demands on the performers. And it places great demands on the conductor, who must keep the energy high and the music focussed.
Lindberg — and the gathered ensembles — succeed admirably. This is an intense, and intensely satisfying, musical experience from beginning to end.
However, you purchase (or listen to) this release, do so in the highest audio resolution possible. Pettersson is quite subtle in his orchestral colors and it’s the small audio details that can make or break the listening experience.
A major addition to an already excellent series.

Allan Pettersson: Symphony No. 12 “The Dead in the Square” 
Swedish Radio Choir; Eric Ericson Chamber Choir 
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra; Christian Lindberg, conductor 
BIS 2450 SACD

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