Pettersson - Violin Concerto no.2, Symphony no.17
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Cat No: BIS2290
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 3rd May 2019
ArtistsUlf Wallin (violin)
Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra
1Violin Concerto No. 2 (Revised Version): Opening
2Violin Concerto No. 2 (Revised Version): Tempo II (After Fig. 54)
3Violin Concerto No. 2 (Revised Version): A Tempo (After Fig. 93)
4Violin Concerto No. 2 (Revised Version): Cantando (Fig. 117)
5Symphony No. 17 (Fragment) [Ed. M. Brylka & C. Lindberg]
Not that the work is without its challenges – for soloist or listener – for the violin plays without rest for most of the Concerto’s 53-minute uninterrupted span. Yet it is hardly deployed in the normal soloist-tutti ‘dialogue’ manner. Rather, this is more akin (as the composer himself seems to have recognised) to a vast one-movement symphony with obbligato violin: the soloist is at times all but inaudible against the full orchestral textures, at others weaving in and out of earshot, but rarely performing the conventional functions associated with a concertante role. Happily, issues of audibility and focus are splendidly handled by the BIS team, helped by the fact that Lindberg and the Norrköping orchestra are now enormously experienced in Pettersson’s strikingly individual music, and that they use the revised version of the score which addressed some of the piece’s thornier problems. And it helps, too, that the soloist is the veteran Ulf Wallin, a pupil of Wolfgang Schneiderhan, no less, well known and widely praised for his commitment to 20th-century and contemporary music.
Wallin turns in a blazingly intense but well judged and expertly paced account of the demanding solo part, technically superb throughout, and that intensity and proficiency is matched by the orchestra. As with Pettersson’s other mature works, this concerto progresses from an uncompromisingly atonal idiom to a resolution that is distinctively but imaginatively tonal. (One can hardly talk in the usual terms of ‘tension’ and ‘release’ in such an unconventional concerto.) In this case, the resolution comes in the form of one of the composer’s own Barefoot Songs, which is liberally quoted from, particularly in the closing Cantando section (track 4 on the present recording). It provides the work with a surprisingly satisfying conclusion, and Wallin, Lindberg and the orchestra do it proud. As the only recording of the work in the current catalogue, this inevitably sweeps the board, but it would probably do so even if the couple of earlier accounts (including that by Ida Haendel) were still available, thanks also to the excellent modern sound and engineering.
What will make this release especially attractive to Pettersson’s many admirers is the coupling: a performing edition by Lindberg and Markus Brylka of the surviving fragment of Pettersson’s unfinished Symphony no.17, left incomplete at the time of his death. It’s a punchy seven-minute torso that peters out (no pun intended) rather like the incomplete final fugue of JS Bach’s Art of Fugue, leaving the listener wondering what might have been. For collectors of this series, it’s certainly essential listening. Coupled with the Concerto, it should tempt many others to explore Pettersson’s tremendously compelling soundworld.
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