PETTERSSON Symphonies Nos 4 & 16
The Lindberg-Pettersson project continues to go from strength to strength. After his revelatory recording of the Ninth Symphony (5/14), Lindberg now attends to No 4 (1958 59) – which initiated the compositional phase culminating in the Ninth – and No 16 (1979), probably his last fully completed work. They make a finely contrasted pair, neither perhaps holding to the stereotypical Petterssonian model.
The same strengths that informed earlier instalments in Lindberg’s part of the cycle shine through once more here: a sure grasp of structure; attention to detail; and an unwavering, almost missionary zeal to communicate, burning scarcely less bright than did the composer’s own. In No 4, the competition is fierce: Alun Francis’s interpretation was one of the best of those he committed to CPO’s incomplete compendium and remains a fine account, but Lindberg and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra bring out the light and shade of one of Pettersson’s more stylistically fractured scores, featuring radiant chorales, still more. The orchestration is also a revelation, right from the opening organ-like sonorities which (as this may be a memorial to the composer’s deeply religious mother) take on an extra resonance.
The Sixteenth, part symphony, part saxophone concerto, is no mere filler but a major coupling in its own right. Soloist Jörgen Pettersson has made a point of performing the work precisely as written, without the modifications made by John-Edward Kelly on his otherwise fine CPO account. The result is the most fluent account of this final flowering of Pettersson’s symphonic mastery. BIS’s sound is rich and natural, outpointing the CPO rival and that by the work’s dedicatee, Frederick Hemke, after the premiere (on Swedish Society, long nla). The fascinating bonus DVD is in Swedish with English subtitles.