Pettersson: Seven Sonatas For Two Violins / Duo Gelland

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Allan Pettersson is best known, even notorious in some circles, for having composed some of the bleakest symphonic music of the post-war era, especially those works cast in a single, uninterrupted movement filling a vast, grim canvass. Among his earliest mature compositions, however, stands this remarkable cycle of seven sonatas for two violins, all written in 1951. These are compact works ranging from three-and-a-half to 13 minutes in length. Each foam at the mouth with nervous, creative energy and relentless virtuosic demands. Folk-related themes plus fingerprint ostinatos and repeated notes morph into twisted images in a room full of fun house mirrors. Shrieking glissandos and stabbing pizzicatos spruce up Pettersson's visionary string deployment, which often gives the illusion of more than a mere pair of fiddlers. For the most part, Martin and Cecilia Gelland bring out the music's unbridled, daring aspects to more cogent effect than the Grünfarb/Mannberg violin duo that pioneered the sonatas in the late 1970s on the Caprice label. Some listeners, though, may prefer the earlier duo's suaver and steadier opening in the First Sonata. A group of violin/piano miniatures fills out the disc. These early, brooding character pieces are both somber and fragile, and are sensitively played by Martin Gelland and pianist Lennart Wallin. There's little to choose between Wallin's stark reading of Petterson's 1945 Lamento and Volker Banfield's slightly more animated, flowing version on CPO. Alexander Keuk's clear and useful annotations will appeal to curious Pettersson neophytes. If you've never encountered Pettersson's uncompromising brand of modernism, the sonatas for two violins are the best place to start. --Jed Distler,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: BIS-CD-1028

  • UPC: 7318590010280

  • Label: BIS

  • Composer: Allan Pettersson

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Gelland Duo

  • Performer: Cecilia Gelland, Lennart Wallin, Martin Gelland