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Pettersson: Concerto For Violin & String Quartet

Pettersson: Concerto For Violin & String Quartet

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Between 1934 and 1949, Allan Pettersson, one of Sweden’s foremost composers of symphonies, wrote chamber works that differ greatly from his later production. With his Two Elegies, composed at the tender age of 17, Pettersson drew the enthusiasm of his teacher, who saw in him the makings of a composer. The Four Improvisations for string trio recall Bartók’s music with their rhythmic vitality. The Andante espressivo is more personal with its experimental melodic and harmonic leanings. After his forced return from Paris in 1939, where he had gone to study, Pettersson composed a tender and lyrical Romanza and, three years later, his only piece for solo piano, the elegiac and meditative Lamento.

The most important work on this recording is the Concerto for Violin and String Quartet, a harsh, dense work that places great demands on the musicians. Initially rejected by the critics, the work now appears almost unique in terms of its radical tonal language and experimental use of extended techniques. For this recording, Ulf Wallin has brought together colleagues and friends to perform these lesser-known works, which nevertheless constitute an essential milestone in the career of the great Swedish composer.


The Concerto for Violin and String Quartet of 1949, which opens the program and makes up over half of the album’s run time, is a lush work with numerous challenges for performers, both technically and harmonically, that from the outside would seem likely to limit the scope of listeners who would enjoy it. However, credit to the present performers, for these demands are met, and the results are thoroughly interesting and thought-provoking. The Concerto is the latest included work, chronologically, and it is a clear step toward the composer’s symphonic writing. The earliest works here are the Two Elegies for Violin and Piano, from 1934. These lovely, short tunes reflect the schooling the composer had undertaken; one could perhaps mistake these as having been written in the previous century.

Pianist Thomas Hoppe, Wallin is another draw. Aside from ideal backing on the violin and piano works, Hoppe delivers a beautiful reading of Pettersson’s Lamento for Solo Piano. There is a lot to take in here, and listeners will be rewarded with subsequent hearings.

-- (Keith Finke)

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: BIS
    • UPC/Barcode: 7318599925806
    • Item Number: BIS-2580