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Thread: Allan Pettersson

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    I listened to his 7th symphony fragment on YouTube today, just after reading this thread. It's interesting. I'd love to find out more, but I was in my CDs shop already and there is nothing of his music
    Pettersson's music isn't widely recorded and I can certainly see why. Take it easy there, Some Guy.

    Having said that, you can find a complete symphony cycle on CPO Records for pretty hefty price tag that I'm not willing to pay.

    If you like a one mood composer, then have fun, but if you enjoy a variety of emotions in your composer, then Pettersson is not your man.
    Last edited by JTech82; Mar-08-2009 at 04:42.

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    Senior Member some guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JTech82 View Post
    No need to take things so personally. If you like his music, then go knock yourself out and enjoy it for what you think it is and I'll happily listen to somebody else who I enjoy more.

    There's many colors in the musical rainbow for us to choose from. As far as this helping the conversation, I think it does, because I have a difference of opinion than yours, so yes, I think it creates a better balance of things.
    I think if you go back and read my posts, you'll find that I have never expressed an opinion about Pettersson. All we know from my posts is that you and I hear different things in his music. No one knows from my posts on this thread whether I like his music or not. (Nor do I think that I've taken anything personally. Not on this thread, anyway! What made you think that?)

    I did say that I didn't think he was "unknown." I suppose that could be called an opinion. Hmmm. That's the closest I could find....

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    Quote Originally Posted by JTech82 View Post
    If you like a one mood composer, then have fun, but if you enjoy a variety of emotions in your composer, then Pettersson is not your man.
    Even if "mood" music isn't what you like most, I think it's good to hear something diffrent from those composers you are used to. And if for some reason you feel moody someday, moody music is the best thing you can find. I guess that people's reaction for Petterssons music depends on how they feel actually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    I think if you go back and read my posts, you'll find that I have never expressed an opinion about Pettersson. All we know from my posts is that you and I hear different things in his music. No one knows from my posts on this thread whether I like his music or not. (Nor do I think that I've taken anything personally. Not on this thread, anyway! What made you think that?)

    I did say that I didn't think he was "unknown." I suppose that could be called an opinion. Hmmm. That's the closest I could find....
    You're right, Some Guy, you didn't say whether you liked Pettersson or not, but it does seem like you're in "defensive mode," when all I said was I thought his was music wasn't my cup of tea.

    You being so quick to defend his music perhaps led me to think that you liked it. If you don't like it then sorry for the misunderstanding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aramis View Post
    Even if "mood" music isn't what you like most, I think it's good to hear something diffrent from those composers you are used to. And if for some reason you feel moody someday, moody music is the best thing you can find. I guess that people's reaction for Petterssons music depends on how they feel actually.
    What could be more moody than Mahler? I rest my case.

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    *bump*

    Okay, I'm, swedish and I have listened to Allan Pettersson a lot so I think the right to give my opinion.

    Whats the essence in Allan Petterssons music ? Yes, it's feelings. First of all angst and a general heavy mood. Then anger, anger at everything around him. Understand that he was raised in a poor neighborhood with a father who drank too much. Then he got an illness that would never go away.
    So his music is loaded with all these feelings and the listener will probably find this very brutal, and so did I.

    He is not writing beautiful melodies. Go to Mozart if thats what you are after.

    He is not very original. You can hear clear references to Mahler, Schostakovich, Profkofiev and Schoenberg and other modern composers especially when it comes to orchestration.

    His symphonies lack a general structure. They could best be described as different blocks linked together. How they are related is not clear all the time, although I would suggest they are a map of the composers different feelings at the time. There is nothing more.
    This makes it very hard to follow the ideas and he clearly demands a lot from the listener.

    So is he a bad composer ? No, of course not. His skill lies in giving all those violent feelings room in the music and he does it in a very convincing way.

    Is he a great composer ? No. He is way too one dimensional. It's all about the feelings.

    Is he something you listen to everyday ? No. This is music written for the depressed and the ones filled with anger.

    Whats his best work ?
    His Symphony No. 7 is the most well known. I know why. It's because in the middle of all brutal music he throws in a string section that evokes a completely different mood, a mood of almost happiness. I know, we dont want this passage to end, but it does and the violent outbursts comes back.
    This string passage sounds beautiful, but it really is just a trick. It could not stand alone as it's mostly a repetition of some chords that sound well together.

    My favourite Pettersson piece is entitled simply "Mesto" and its a part of a string concerto.
    Why is it a favourite ? Well, it still evokes feelings of anger and sadness but it has a clear structure that his symphonies do not have.
    We have a little theme that breaks the outbursts and keep coming back, everytime a little bit more stronger. So its like a rondo. Much more easier to follow when you know this structure of the piece.

    My advice (if you are curious) is that you get a recording of this Mesto for strings instead of trying to enjoy his brutal most ugly symphonies.
    I own a recording of it by Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stig Westerberg.

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    Senior Member Earthling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janne View Post
    His Symphony No. 7 is the most well known. I know why. It's because in the middle of all brutal music he throws in a string section that evokes a completely different mood, a mood of almost happiness. I know, we dont want this passage to end, but it does and the violent outbursts comes back.
    This string passage sounds beautiful, but it really is just a trick. It could not stand alone as it's mostly a repetition of some chords that sound well together.
    I wouldn't go so far as to say that the middle section is a "trick" any more than any other contrasting themes in a classical piece is a "trick" (actually that middle section has never sounded "happy" to me but terribly sorrowful in a way that something in a minor key couldn't do-- it expresses perhaps something akin to the Portuguese sense of saudade).

    Definitely want to check out the string concerto though.
    At last to guess, instead of always knowing. To be able to say “ah” and “oh” and “hey” instead of “yea” and “amen. ” ~ Wings of Desire

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    Quote Originally Posted by Earthling View Post
    I wouldn't go so far as to say that the middle section is a "trick" any more than any other contrasting themes in a classical piece is a "trick" (actually that middle section has never sounded "happy" to me but terribly sorrowful in a way that something in a minor key couldn't do-- it expresses perhaps something akin to the Portuguese sense of saudade).

    Definitely want to check out the string concerto though.
    Perhaps "trick" was a strong word, I regret that a bit.
    To me it sounds like a temporary relief, maybe he wanted to show that in all thats ugly and depressing there is still some kind of light although the darkness comes back. Talkning about deprssion and sorrow, the drawn out ending of the symphony is very depressing ful of sorrow if you ask me.
    Anyway, the string section doesnt have anything in common with previous or following blocks in the symphony and thats why I have a hard time appreciating it.

    Yes, check out his string concerto (the one with the Mesto). There we also get a powerful tune but this time with a much more clear function and role to play in the movement.

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    I´d like to point out the difference between various Pettersson recordings, which can influence the impression of the music a lot.
    The CPO complete edition is a very praiseworthy initiative and there are some very good performances in the set (symphony no.8 for example), but there are also some that are less succesful - the 2.Violin Concerto with Hoelscher especially (too incoherent and lacking commitment if compared to Ida Haendel and Blomstedt recording) and the 6th Symphony, which is likewise dull and never gets off the ground if compared to Kamu on an elder CBS LP (criminally never re-released, apparently).
    Also, Commissiona´s elder recording of Symphony no.9 lets the music breathe and become diversified more if compared to the ultra-fast 9th on CPO, which makes the music more stressful than necessary perhaps. Likewise, Doratis elder recording of the 7th is similarly by far the best of that symphony, whereas among the Pettersson symphonies that Segerstam recorded only no.11 seems good to me.
    As regards the 3 Concertos for Strings on CPO, they are OK, but I´d like another recording with a warmer and more grandiose orchestral "chandos"-sound to be released also.

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    Senior Member Jeremy Marchant's Avatar
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    Skip reading this thread I haven't seen the phrase that characterises Pettersson for me. I came to him, like many, via the Dorati recording of the seventh symphony and it is a compelling work, reasonably tightly organised. However, the other works of his that I know - the second symphony and Mesto for strings - are sprawling, almost entirely in a slow tempo and relatively interminable.

    But what characterises Pettersson's music for me - all of it - is the massive, crushing, relentless self pity. He had a difficult life and, my God, he is determined to rub your nose in it. Make no mistake it is your fault I'm having a hard time, he seems to say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Marchant View Post
    Skip reading this thread I haven't seen the phrase that characterises Pettersson for me. I came to him, like many, via the Dorati recording of the seventh symphony and it is a compelling work, reasonably tightly organised. However, the other works of his that I know - the second symphony and Mesto for strings - are sprawling, almost entirely in a slow tempo and relatively interminable.

    But what characterises Pettersson's music for me - all of it - is the massive, crushing, relentless self pity. He had a difficult life and, my God, he is determined to rub your nose in it. Make no mistake it is your fault I'm having a hard time, he seems to say.
    The Mesto movement is the only work of Pettersson I know that has a returning theme which is also developed later on in the movement. It also creates a structure that most of his other works do not have. The end is convincing so I would not call it interminable.
    His other works though are more built up by different blocks linked together without any thematic stability whatsoever to keep it all together so "interminable" fits better there.
    The 7th symphony, for example, is easy to cut in 4 or 5 different blocks and they do not have much in common.

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    Senior Member TresPicos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Marchant View Post
    But what characterises Pettersson's music for me - all of it - is the massive, crushing, relentless self pity. He had a difficult life and, my God, he is determined to rub your nose in it. Make no mistake it is your fault I'm having a hard time, he seems to say.
    Yes, the way he consistently put his misery into writing was very honest and genuine.

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    The focus on Pettersson´s music as portraying his own physical sickness and misery is largely based on the writings of his first biographer Leif Aare and an early documentary film about the composer with sequences of him being confined to a wheel-chair. Other views of his music can also be found in the liner notes of the CPO-CDs, for example. Actually he chose poetry from socially and politically engaged writers to a larger extend than many other composers, as seen in his 12th Symphony - Pablo Neruda for instance, and folk songs. He had left-wing views and felt a strong solidarity with the working classes, contrary to many other composers. His musical language was to a large extend formed before his sickness entered. The views of Aare tend to banalize his existence into self-pity, whereas Pettersson tried to exactly transcend that. His symphonic endings are often very beautiful, thus implying an element of Utopia and hope after the struggling, also seen in his monumental 2nd Violin Concerto.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Jun-22-2010 at 22:06.

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    Senior Member Falstaft's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    Maybe that's what describes Pettersson: cells the length of Brahms in structures the length of Bruckner.
    This is brilliantly put, some_guy. I don't know his output well enough (just the 7th symphony) to know if this is really accurate, but I'll take your word for it! AP seems like quite the divisive composer from this thread (and reviews I've seen on amazon.com).

    Is there any one symphony besides the 7th that anyone might unilaterally recommend? It seems that recently there's no stopping me from buying once someone has said something good about a work of a 20th Century Scandinavian composer!

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    No.8. It is somewhat calmer and more approachable than the others, but a masterpiece.

    The 9th, if possible with Commissiona.
    The 12th (vocal) and the 2nd.
    2nd Violin Cto with Ida Haendel.

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