MENDELSSOHN: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11. Symphony No. 3 in A miinor Op. 56 "Scottish."
NDR Radio Philharmonic Orch / Andrew Manze, cond.
PENTATONE SACD 5186595 TT: 70:48

PETTERSSON: Symphony No. 14 (1978)
Norrköpng Symphony Orch / Christian Lindberg, cond.
BIS SACD 2230 (one CD, one DVD) TT: 52:14

"Heroines of Love and Loss" - female composers and classical heroines of the 17th century. Music of Giovanni Kapsberger, Purcell, Vivaldi, Bennet, Strozzi, Piccini, Sessa, Caccin,. Vizzana.,and Anon.
Ruby Hughes, soprano.Mime Yamahio Brinkman, cello. Jonas Norberg, theorbo, lute and archlute.
BIS SACD 2248 TT: 71:28.

Andrew Manze is one of today's most respected musicians, both as a violinist and as a conductor. He specializes in early music and has made many recordings for various labels, some of which have been praised on this site. Now he turns his attention to somewhat later music, two Mendelssohn symphonies (Nos. 1 and 3), composed after his twelve early string symphonies. Since 2014 Manze has been Principal Conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra, and he leads them in vivacious readings made in Hanover's Grosser Sendessal des NDR Landesfunkhaus in January 2016. Audio is not up to the label's usual standards: effective stereo, but little use of rear speakers, and timpani are rather blurred.

Swedish composer Allan Pettersson (1911 - 1980) is not to be confused with earlier Swedish composer, Wilhelm Peterson-Berger (1867 - 1942). The latter's music often is based on folk music, and has wide appeal, which cannot be said of Allan. Allan Pettersson came from an abusive family, led a dismal life filled with pain and grief. and suffered from debilitating arthritis most of his life. His wretched life is reflected in his16 lengthy symphonies which were virtually ignored until Antal Dorati premiered and recorded Symphony No.7 in 1948, bringing international acclaim. Swedish government support assisted Pettersson's living circumstances and he continued composing untl his death in 1980. Pettersson's music has sometimes been compared with Mahler, who also often focused on despair, doom and sadness.

BIS is in the process of recording all of his symphonies with Christian Lindberg and the Norrköping Orchestra. Already issued are Nos. 1, 2, 6, 8, and 13. Now we have Symphony No.14. This was premiered by the Stockholm Philharmonic conducted by Sergiu Comissiona November 26, 1981. It is not a rewarding work for the listener, with a final movement that ends abruptly and inconclhsively. This new release includes a DVD, a two-hour Swedish Television documentary made in 1987called The Song of Life, sponsored by the conductor who obviously understands this unusual composer. The documentary features rare interviews with the composer. There is no charge for the extra disk. We can be sure the symphony receives a definitive performance, and the BIS engineers have done their work well. This is a most unusual issue, worthy of attention.

Should you enjoy early music you will find much of interest in this superb presentation of a variety of instrumental and vocal works from the baroque period. The title of this disk refers to "female composers" but works of male composers also are featured. There are sixteen tracks alternating vocal and instrumental works (cello, theorbo, lute, archlute). Performers are excellent masters of their of their craft, and soprano Ruby Hughes has a clear, pure sound. Full texts and translations are provided.

R.E.B. (April 2017)