Friday, November 9, 2012


Dear Friends,

Over the next few weeks there will be two concerts featuring Pettersson's music (and one featuring another important composer), which are the ideal way to brighten up these cold and gloomy days in Northern Europe (that was sarcasm). 

On 16 November in Tallinn, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Andres Mustonen will be performing Schnittke's Concerto for Violoncello No. 1, a major work of the 20th century cello concerto repertoire. While Schnittke was working on this piece, he suffered his first stroke and entered a coma. Although it is a great piece in its own right, one can imagine the journey into darkness and suffering, and also the ecstatic, delerius return to light and life. The soloist in this performance will be none other than the great Natalia Gutman, the cellist who premiered the work about 25 years ago. If you are in the neighborhood, this is not to be missed. 

On 20 November in Berlin the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin will be performing both Pettersson's Concerto for String Orchestra No. 1 and Hartmann's Concerto Funebre. This should be a moving evening of great emotional power, listening to these two heavyweight (and too often neglected) symphonists  of the 20th century, who both wrote defiant music which raged against the injustices of this world. The concert will be conducted by Jan Michael Horstmann, who in the past three years has programmed three different Pettersson works. In addition to the Symphony No. 7 in 2010, last year he performed the Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra, both with his own band, the Mittelsächsische Philharmonie. Here's hoping that Maestro Horstmann's career continues to rise and he can bring his truly committed Pettersson advocacy to even larger and more important stages. How about the Symphony No. 5 for next year!?

On 29/30 November in Norrköping/Linnköping comes the major Pettersson event of the year. Christian Lindberg will continue his BIS Pettersson cycle by performing the Symphony No. 9 with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. Out of all the Pettersson symphonies, I would argue that this one comes in at the number 2 or 3 spot in terms of audience (and orchestra) unfriendliness. If you are a fan of this work (and I don't think there are many of us!) this is a not-to-miss event, because people are not exactly lining up to program this piece. 

I'm really curious to hear what tempos Lindberg decides to take. In the score Pettersson indicates a time of about 65-70 minutes, while Commisiona's premiere recording of the work takes around 85 minutes. I'll admit that I had gotten quite used to Francis' take (around 67 minutes) before listening to the Commisiona for the first time, and I found the latter to be way too slow, especially for a work like this. Although I find this symphony to be effective in a kinda clumsy, unconventional way, Pettersson does spin notes here, and I think the tempos do need to move along. We'll see.

I'll be at all of the concerts above, so contact me if you'll be there!


  1. I love 9th Symphony. 85 min is by far too slow, this symphony isn't a funeral. Best tempo is 65-70 min. I regret not to be in Norrköping.

  2. Hi!
    Love the site! Off topic, but in there are performances of the world premiers of Pettersson's fifth and sixth symphonies up on the Web at the Unsung Composers website (along with radio and LP recordings of several of his other symphonies, at

    The recordings are under the 'Archives sections, in the Swedish Music section of the Downloads File.



  3. It was a intense and powerful performance that lasted 70 minutes.

    1. 70 min would be ok for the recording. Francis' recording is also 70 min not 67 min.

  4. The Norrköping performance was about 67 minutes; according to Lindberg it was about 67:40. I'll post a review soon.