MENDELSSOHN: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 11. Symphony No.
3 in A miinor Op. 56 "Scottish."
PETTERSSON: Symphony No. 14 (1978)
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)