PETTERSSON Violin Concerto No 2 (Wallin)
Michael Oliver described Pettersson’s Second Violin Concerto (1977 79) in these pages as ‘perplexing but absorbing, infuriatingly chaotic but somehow unified by sheer eloquence’, noting how in the original version Ida Haendel had to ‘fight against a texture in which two or three strands of argument are continually interweaving’. That was the composer’s intention, of course, in what is less a concerto than a symphony with solo violin. Pettersson’s revised score (1980) lightened the orchestral string textures, as Isabelle van Keulen’s recording a quarter of a century later confirmed.
What stands out most in its third recording is the sustained lyricism of this very long (53 minutes), intense and demanding meditation on one of Pettersson’s own Barefoot Songs. He may have originally intended the soloist to be the orchestral leader, and the strong-toned Ulf Wallin – as commanding as Haendel and van Keulen – does seem slightly more integrated into the whole than his predecessors. Lindberg moulds the structure convincingly, driving the music forwards without overwhelming his soloist; the emergence of the song theme, Cantando (track 4), is magical. The result is less perplexing, just as absorbing and eloquent but not at all chaotic. BIS’s crystal-clear recording enhances the lighter and more transparent textures still further.
Pettersson enthusiasts will be most excited by the coupling, the premiere recording of the seven-minute untitled fragment begun in the composer’s final months and generally thought of as the opening of an unfinished Seventeenth Symphony. In this performing edition, made by Lindberg with Pettersson expert Markus Brylka, it feels exactly like the exposition and initial development of a symphony. Thoroughly engrossing, its sudden finish is dismaying but it is wonderful to hear this final utterance in such an idiomatic account. Needless to say, the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra are on top form; no one plays Pettersson like them!