Pettersson: Symphony No. 13 (SACD)

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Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Christian Lindberg

Beginning his first symphony in 1951 and working on his 17th when he died in 1980, Allan Pettersson concerned himself almost exclusively with the symphonic genre for three decades – and this at a time when many composers considered the symphony to be hopelessly old-fashioned. Pettersson, however, was deeply committed to the genre, a commitment that led to ‘the last symphonist’ moniker that he was attributed in Sweden. He completed his Symphony No. 13 in August 1976, as a commission by the Bergen Festival for its 25th anniversary the following year. The complexity and large scale of the work was such that the first performance was postponed for another year however – and in fact the work had never been performed in Sweden until Christian Lindberg and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra played it in concert in 2014. Like the majority of Pettersson’s symphonies it is in one movement, harbouring the great contrasts between an atonal and a traditional, tonal idiom that characterise the composer’s musical language. A noteworthy feature in the present work is the presence of many brief allusions to other composers – from Beethoven (with the theme to the Fifth Symphony) to D-S-C-H, the musical cryptogram of Shostakovich’s name. Over the course of four previous discs, Christian Lindberg and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra have demonstrated a true affinity with Pettersson’s music, an affinity that deepens with each new recording.