Allan Pettersson (1911-1980) : Symphony n°6. Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Christian Lindberg. 1 CD Bis BIS-SACD-1980. Recorded in 2012. Booklet in French, Swedish, English and German. Duration : 59’18
On November 25, on a famous social network, Christian Lindberg wrote: «Having lived now for 6 months with Pettersson´s 9th symphony I am SO MUCH looking forwards to start the work with the orchestra tomorrow! Pettersson gets under your skin, and You actually feel his pain working with his music. So why do we love him so much?? HE SPOKE OUT MUSICALLY ABOUT HUMAN DISPAIR! And in some strange way, at the end of his symphonies one feels like being in heaven!! Pettersson is GIGANTIC!!»
Those words could also have been written with regard to the Symphony n°6, recorded by Lindberg at the beginning of the year, and which is the first indisputable masterpiece written by Allan Pettersson, and in which are combined all the characteristics of the composer: violence and pain transfigured by a rude orchestration, harsh but captivating, with islands of lyricism of stupefying beauty. Along with the Symphonies n° 7, 8, 9, 13 and the Violin Concerto n°2, this 6th Symphony is one of the best pieces of Pettersson.
Lindberg had already impressed the music world before, getting Clef ResMusica awards for all his first attempts: the Orchestra Concerto n°3 and the world premiere recordings of the 8 Barefoot songs by Antal Doráti, and of the Symphony n°1.
With the Symphony n°6, does he turn out to be as good? Yes indeed. But in his own way. He doesn’t distort Pettersson, but he brings him into the XXIst century, in which violence is as prevalent as in the XXth, but put in charts and numbers. Lindberg the hyperactive, the extrovert, the communicator, the biker and the fan of red sports cars, is looking at Pettersson the disabled, cloistered and irascible. By s strange alchemy, those two actually communicate, and give us this music, that possesses a strength and a freshness as if it had been composed for today’s world, and not fifty years ago. And the meaning of this cover picture, on which Lindberg is facing Pettersson, is now quite clear: Lindberg doesn’t perform Pettersson’s music, he doesn’t glorify it, he doesn’t serve it, he only lives it as an encounter, an exchange from man to man, which speaks to all and every one of us of our fights, so that we can keep standing.
Thus, this version is the best of the — small — discography, which comes down to Okko Kamu in 1976 by the same orchestra (CBS, reissued in CD format by Haydn House) and Manfred Trojahn in 1993 wih the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin (CPO). Lindberg’s focus, its analytical qualities make sound clear the instrumentation which seem too dense under other batons. Lindberg manages time in a way which gives to the symphony a unity that was absent in the other versions. With Kamu and Trojahn the first half of the symphony is tormented, and the second half, lyrical and tragic as if it was a huge coda. We gain in immediate emotion, but piece seems unbalanced with a huge coda which last half of the symphony. Just the opposite, Lindberg handles his effects with skill and spreads the climaxes throughout the work, giving it a sense of unity we never heard before.
Backed up by a superlative recording, Lindberg reaffirms the expressive power, the moral aspect and musical integrity of the work of Allan Pettersson, and he does it with an unprecedented strength.