Pettersson: Symphony No 6 / Christian Lindberg, Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra
CPO have already been here and long since left sporting their "First Pettersson Complete Symphonies" t-shirts, yet BIS held their own ace with the previous volume's premiere recording of the composer's unfinished First Symphony, the extensive extant bits and pieces assembled into a more-than-adequate performing edition by Christian Lindberg.
Some of the earlier volumes from both BIS and CPO are compromised to a degree by less than ideal audio engineering, but sound quality on BIS's latest two has been of the finest - the crystal clarity of this latest 'Super Audio' recording is almost matched by the standard stereo of the last.
At any rate, by the time Pettersson reached his Sixth Symphony his imagination had attained a level of ideational and architectural supremacy that many can only dream of. Written typically as a single movement, spanning more than two thousand bars of incredible colour and detail, the Sixth is shorter only than the 70-odd-minute Thirteenth and the 75-minute Ninth in terms of gigantism, but Pettersson never forgets his audience: propelled constantly onwards by the sheer force of musical argument and expression - always fundamentally tonal too - the listener's mind is unable to wander. Moreover, though Pettersson's severe arthritis sentenced him to a painful, almost wretched life, his music does not resort to morbidity or miserabilism. On the other hand, the tone is almost always expansively serious-minded, graphically introspective, post-apocalyptically serene: the symphonies are eerily lifelike in their restriction of genuinely joyous moments. The final ten minutes of the Sixth are devastatingly soulful. This is one of the twentieth century's greatest symphonic works.
The accompanying quadrilingual booklet has a shortish but illuminating essay by Michael Kube. With a terrific performance under Lindberg by the astonishingly talented Norrköping Symphony Orchestra - their second of the year too! - this is one of the recordings of the year.
-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International
Catalog Number: BIS-1980
Composer: Allan Pettersson
Conductor: Christian Lindberg
Orchestra/Ensemble: Norrköping Symphony Orchestra