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Allan Pettersson: Complete Symphonies [Box Set] [Box set]

Saarbrcken Radio Symphony Orchestra , Allan Pettersson , Peter Ruzicka , Alun Francis , Manfred Honeck , et al. Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: £65.21 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Allan Pettersson: Complete Symphonies [Box Set] + Langgaard - The Symphonies
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Product details

  • Orchestra: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Deutsches Symphony Orchestra, Hannover Radio Philharmonie, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, et al.
  • Conductor: Peter Ruzicka, Alun Francis, Manfred Honeck, Johann Arnell, Manfred Trojahn, et al.
  • Composer: Allan Pettersson, Peter Ruzicka
  • Audio CD (29 Jan 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 12
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Cpo
  • ASIN: B000L42J7C
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 208,344 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
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This box set gives us the 15 symphonies (2-16) completed by the Swedish composer Allan Pettersson, plus a Symphonic Movement, and a 'Pettersson requiem' by Peter Ruzicka.

Petersson's music reminds me of three composers - Bruckner, Mahler and Schnittke. Mahler in that his music consists of a set of rather large autobiographical symphonies, based on elements of songs written earlier in the composer's career. - Bruckner in that his music is single-minded, in a sense very spiritual (although very much of the 20th C rather than 19th), and constructed in blocks that at times make the music sound grandiose and uncompromising - but to some will sound poorly structured. - Schnittke in that he explores the extremes of symphonic expression - both composers wrote some of the darkest and most troubling music in history - generally lacking the optimism of Mahler and Bruckner - a musical attempt to find meaning in suffering by looking at it head on in all its ugliness.

These symphonies fall roughly into three categories - symphonies 2-4, 6-8, and 10-16, with 5 and 9 being transitional works.

The easiest group for the newcomer to understand is definitely 6-8. Symphony No. 7 would be the recommended starting point for an encounter with Pettersson - a dark, dramatic violent opening section gives way to a beautiful song like section. The symphony is overall tragic in feel and is about as easy as Pettersson gets. If you quite like Symphony No. 7, or at least are not put off by it, you might try investigating Symphonies 6 and 8. Symphony No. 6 packs a heavy emotional punch - the darker and heavier cousin of Symphony No. 7. Symphony No. 8 is in two thematically linked sections - it has moments of beauty, moments of tragedy, moments of furious anger.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars swedish genius 15 Aug 2012
These are remarkable works, not least considering the conditions under which many were written. Some must have been conceived during his many long spells in hospital, or during the time he had to live in dreadful and noisy conditions in a grotty flat in what was a Swedish sink estate. One wonders what drove him to keep churning out music which he might never hear played, and which was unlikely to be understood if it were. They need some work from the listener. Six and seven are the most approachable, seven especially blasting out real and deep anguish in places, and great beauty in others. Nine shows how much can be made from an initial germ of an idea which is really not much more than a bit of a scale. The others I keep returning to in the hope that I might come to sufficient understanding of them to realise why they are so good. I know that they are very clever and logically worked out, but, as with a proof from the Principia, my poor little brain can't always follow what is going on. Buying the lot in one go isn't cheap, but you get a box of music that will keep you listening and wondering for years. You're unlikely to hear any of them in the concert hall, and one listening isn't enough anyway. This is music of great depth and inspiration, masterful orchestration, and for me at least, a great investment.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint hearted 30 Oct 2007
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Though it is the largest of the Nordic countries, no Swedish composer has a really high profile like its neighbours most famous composers: Greig, Nielsen and Sibelius. I don't think Pettersson could achieve their popularity. Brought up in poverty, he suffered illness for much of his life and neglect as a composer. It would appear these experiences influenced music which is dark, dramatic and demanding on the listener. Though the musical language is reasonably accessible, these are big works, usually in a single movement with some of them lasting over a hour. There are few easy reference points to find your way in. You could see Pettersson as a Swedish cliche; think of Bergman but without the jokes.
I realise I am not selling this well, but believe me I have enjoyed this set enormously. I don't believe everything in art should be easy. This is powerful and moving music from a determined individual. It is going to take me some time to get my head round all these symphonies, but I am finding the journey very rewarding.
If you like Russell Watson, you will probably hate these symphonies. If you think a hard-won pleasure is all the more worthwhile, try them.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly the best I have ever heard 10 Sep 2011
Allan Petterson is the most overlooked composer of the 20th century. Amazingly, even many of the great conductors of our time have not even heard of him. His cycle of symphonies, and then mainly his Sixth to Ninth (or arguably his Fifth to Eleventh) composed in the sixties, belong to the best modern classical has to offer. This appreciation does not come easily, though. I had to listen to his symphonies very many times before appreciating them (sometimes while doing other stuff just to get acquainted, but always loud). And this process started anew for every single one of them. At first I only discerned short and chaotic musical cells, unconnected and each just a few counts long. Coherence, motive or themes seemed lacking, it only went from a beginning to an end, not one bar in between could be predicted.
Gaining love for these symphonies was hard work, it did not grow, but struck me in the middle of one; suddenly it made sense, I realized as if hit by lightning how masterful it was, how compelling and deeply moving and sheer beautiful. An a-ha erlebnis if ever I had one. The apex and reward of listening to music for over forty years. The cells had started joining like amoebas embracing, dissolving into each other, thus becoming one. And these larger unities in turn merged into yet bigger forms. In the end all the symphonies themselves became an entity, one big flow and it all made sense. Because that is what they are: organic, dramatic, emotionally draining, full of energy, but at times also outright romantic. For the first time I could take a step back and see the full canvas. There is a constant developing of ideas, hardly any themes or motives, what makes it so hard at first: the listener never knows where the music is leading him to next.
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