You could consider Swedish composer Allan Pettersson a musician’s musician. His symphonies, though rarely performed in concert halls, are considered ground-breaking masterworks.
Since 2009 maestro Christian Lindberg has been moving through Pettersson’s orchestral catalog. This release is but the latest in his string of outstanding Pettersson recordings.
The official title of the major work on this album is Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra. But as with Pettersson’s symphonies, it doesn’t easily fall into its designated category. Originally Petterson conceived the work as a symphony, with the first violinist doubling as soloist.
Unlike a traditional concerto, the soloist isn’t always the star. Sometimes the violin plays with the strings, blending into the ensemble. As Pettersson wrote, “this work is a matter of lengthy, expansive sections that frequently resolve themselves in eruptions.”
And how! Solo violinist Ulf Wallin and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra play with almost unrelenting intensity. But that’s necessary to bring about the effect Pettersson’s after. From the opening notes to the final cadence, the music keeps driving forward, almost compulsively so.
It’s a challenging work for the performers, and for the listener. Pettersson’s music commands your full attention. And it’s definitely worth the effort.
Also included is the fragment of Pettersson’s Symphony No. 17. It’s one of the last things he wrote. To my ears, it’s analogous to Beethoven shaking his fist at the thunderstorm on his deathbed. The fragment is as full of intense energy as any of his completed works.
Highly recommended — as are all of Lindberg’s Pettersson recordings.
Allan Pettersson: Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra
Symphony No 17 (fragment)
Ulf Wallin, violin
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra; Christian Lindberg, conductor