Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for review. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Latest Posts

Ernst Pepping and Allan Pettersson: Moral Dilemmas in Symphonic Music
"The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and... "
Tell the Birds
Soundtrack to an Apocalypse
Feast Your Ears: New Music for Piano
Gone For Foreign
Fred Lerdahl: Time After Time
Nothing Sacred
Two From Wayne Horvitz
Two Fresh Cantaloupes

Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for our Editor's Pick's of the month. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Saturday, December 18, 2004 Saturday, December 25, 2004 Friday, December 31, 2004 Wednesday, January 05, 2005 Monday, January 10, 2005 Thursday, January 13, 2005 Thursday, January 20, 2005 Sunday, January 23, 2005 Monday, January 24, 2005 Saturday, January 29, 2005 Wednesday, February 02, 2005 Thursday, February 03, 2005 Monday, February 07, 2005 Tuesday, February 08, 2005 Friday, February 11, 2005 Monday, February 14, 2005 Wednesday, February 16, 2005 Tuesday, February 22, 2005 Monday, February 28, 2005 Sunday, March 06, 2005 Monday, March 07, 2005 Wednesday, March 09, 2005 Sunday, March 13, 2005 Friday, March 18, 2005 Monday, March 28, 2005 Saturday, April 02, 2005 Monday, April 11, 2005 Sunday, April 17, 2005 Tuesday, April 19, 2005 Monday, April 25, 2005 Monday, May 02, 2005 Monday, May 09, 2005 Tuesday, May 17, 2005 Tuesday, May 31, 2005 Monday, June 06, 2005 Thursday, June 16, 2005 Sunday, June 19, 2005 Sunday, July 10, 2005 Wednesday, July 13, 2005 Sunday, July 24, 2005 Friday, July 29, 2005 Monday, August 08, 2005 Monday, August 22, 2005 Wednesday, August 24, 2005 Friday, September 16, 2005 Sunday, September 25, 2005 Tuesday, October 04, 2005 Tuesday, October 18, 2005 Monday, October 24, 2005 Tuesday, November 01, 2005 Monday, November 07, 2005 Saturday, November 12, 2005 Wednesday, November 16, 2005 Tuesday, November 29, 2005 Friday, December 16, 2005 Monday, January 09, 2006 Thursday, January 12, 2006 Thursday, January 19, 2006 Tuesday, January 24, 2006 Thursday, February 02, 2006 Monday, February 13, 2006 Wednesday, February 15, 2006 Wednesday, March 01, 2006 Sunday, March 19, 2006 Sunday, March 26, 2006 Friday, March 31, 2006 Sunday, April 09, 2006 Monday, April 10, 2006 Thursday, April 20, 2006 Friday, April 21, 2006 Thursday, May 11, 2006 Thursday, May 18, 2006 Saturday, May 20, 2006 Friday, June 02, 2006 Tuesday, June 06, 2006 Friday, June 16, 2006 Monday, June 19, 2006 Sunday, June 25, 2006 Monday, June 26, 2006 Monday, July 10, 2006 Thursday, July 13, 2006 Thursday, July 20, 2006 Friday, July 21, 2006 Sunday, July 23, 2006 Thursday, August 03, 2006 Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Powered by Blogger

Friday, September 16, 2005
Symphony No. 5 in B Minor “Solitudo”; Violin Concerto in F-Sharp Minor
Wilhelm Peterson-Berger
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra,
Michail Jurowski, conductor; Ulf Wallin, violin
CPO 999 984-2 (Distributed by Naxos)

Wilhelm Peterson-Berger (1867-1942) is a name unlikely to hold much resonance in the English-speaking world, but in his native Sweden he is regarded as one of the most important composers of the first half of the twentieth century. In addition to his activities as a composer and conductor, Peterson-Berger was for over thirty years the music critic for Stockholm’s Dagens Nyheter (The Daily News), a post he used to alienate and infuriate most of his contemporaries in Swedish musical circles. A committed Wagnerian who was extremely suspicious of modernist tendencies, Peterson-Berger composed in a style that is ironically and conspicuously non-Wagnerian as well as non-modernist.

Symphony No. 5 “Solitudo” was composed in the years 1932 and 1933 and is a four-movement work, the thematic materials of which are taken from Swedish folk tunes or are folk-like in nature. The symphony’s subtitle is in reference to the composer’s retirement in 1930 to his estate in northern Sweden and is not meant to convey a sense of loneliness. Indeed, the mood of the symphony is generally ebullient, although the work does conclude in an attenuated and somber tone.

Peterson-Berger’s compositional style is much more indebted to Brahms than to his idol Wagner. This is very much in evidence throughout the work, no more so than in the symphony’s concluding movement (Allegro molto—Andante molto tranquillo). The second movement (Scherzando vivo, delicatissimo—Allegro moderato) is a Ländler-like dance that never attains the gravity or developmental complexity of Mahler. And for a composer who was as heavily influenced by German romanticism as Peterson-Berger, it is still more ironic that his approach to the development of musical motifs was not so much indebted to the romantics as it was to the impressionists, whose music Peterson-Berger critically derided.

The Norrköping Symphony Orchestra performs this symphony with obvious affinity and understanding, and its strings and woodwinds are quite commendable. Those who
are used to the brass sections of Chicago, New York and Berlin may, however, find this brass section’s sound to be a little off-putting, especially the horns.

Peterson-Berger’s Violin Concerto in F-Sharp Minor was composed in fits and starts beginning in 1912 and was not completed until 1928. Composed in the traditional three-movement format, the concerto adheres to the composer’s eschewing of virtuoso pyrotechnics. It would be difficult to imagine a violin concerto more unlike Mendelssohn’s.

While the Violin Concerto is a lyrical and pleasant composition, it displays Peterson-Berger’s weaknesses as a self-avowed proponent of German romanticism. He seldom develops a theme beyond repetition or repetition within a sequence pattern. In the first movement (Allegro moderato, ma appassionata), Peterson-Berger wisely places a violin cadenza in lieu of much of the development section. The third movement is a sonata-rondo (Allegro moderato, ma con fuoco) that has a decidedly Oriental flavor and features pentatonic melodies. This has led many critics to conclude that Peterson-Berger was influenced by the success of Puccini’s Turandot, a notion that must have driven the Swedish composer to distraction given his stern critical disapproval of Puccini’s music.

As violin soloist, Ulf Wallin gives a creditable performance of Peterson-Berger’s concerto, although in all fairness, it must be said that this work does not allow the soloist the opportunities to demonstrate interpretive and technical proficiency as is the case with standard works from the repertory. Wilhelm Peterson-Berger was an accomplished, but minor composer whose works are worth examining on their own merits as well as providing historical insights into the transition from romanticism to modernism. Many composers were caught in the stylistic maelstrom of the fin-de-siecle (think Reger, Strauss, and Busoni, for example) and Peterson-Berger was no different. He created a style that can be termed German romanticism-lite or Impressionism-with-a-Germanic-twist that is unassuming, pleasant, and quaint (in the good sense of that word). The Norrköping Symphony Orchestra deserves praise for bringing the music of Wilhelm Peterson-Berger to our attention.


Search WWWSearch