Allan Pettersson, Viola Concerto (1979) Part 1 of 2




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Published on Sep 30, 2010

When he died in June 1980, Allan Pettersson left a significant number of sketches and various other manuscripts. Some years later the German composer Peter Ruzicka, who was very interested in Pettersson's music, discovered a previously unknown Viola Concerto among these manuscripts. Not even Pettersson's widow knew of the existence of the work, which was written in 1979. As manager of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ruzicka requested her permission to mount the premiere of the piece in Berlin, and this took place eight years after the composer's death, in September 1988. The Romanian conductor Sergui Comissiona, for some time a champion of Pettersson's music, was on the podium and the viola soloist was Yuri Bashmet.

During his years as a performing musician Pettersson had been a viola player, and it is therefore not at al surprising that he wrote a concerto for this instrument. One may indeed wonder why the work was composed so late. In order to find a possible, if by no means certain, explanation, we must examine the character of the music.

As we know, Pettersson's output had its center of gravity in the symphonic arena, where he often combined massive formal construction with a correspondingly huge orchestral apparatus. In contrast, the Viola Concerto can be seen as a dialogue between the soloist and the orchestra, and the texture as a whole is more tender. This is by no means the first time in the history of music that a composer writes a sort of transfigured summary towards the end of his life; a famous example is Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs. It may also have a symbolic significance that Pettersson "reserved" his own instrument for this occasion, and that he kept the existence of the piece secret.

The concerto, which plays for roughly half an hour, has no beginning in the customary sense, but starts I medias res with the aforementioned dialogue. As so often with Pettersson, the construction is ina single movement, and the solo part is extremely difficult -- one could maybe call it "ungrateful" in that many of the difficulties remain hidden from the listener. The work ends as abruptly as it began, with a climax which is suddenly interrupted. Is it an exclamation mark ? -- a question mark???

  • Category

  • Song

    • Viola Concerto
  • Artist

    • Naxos:unknown artist
  • Album

    • Pettersson: Symphony No. 5 - Viola Concerto
  • Licensed to YouTube by

    • AdShare MG for a Third Party (on behalf of Naxos), and 1 Music Rights Societies


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