The Third is the only Pettersson symphony to consist of four traditionally titled movements: Introduzione. Andante con moto, Largo con espressione, Allegro comodo, and Allegro con moto. One can only conjecture why; perhaps it was an effort to incorporate the formalism taught by Leibowitz. It was composed in Stockholm in 1954-5, and premiered by Tor Man conducting the Göteborg Symphony on November 21, 1956. It is more accessible than the Second Symphony, but is still a difficult piece to come to terms with.There are two recordings of the Third. One is on cpo (999223-2), with Alun Francis leading the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra. The recording is coupled with the Fourth Symphony. Both symphonies are studio recordings. The sound quality is excellent. The other is on BIS CD-680, with Leif Segarstam leading the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. This is not as expansive a reading as Segerstam has of the Pettersson Seventh: at 37:35, it is roughly two minutes shorter than Francis's 39:38, and comes with the much more attractive Fifteenth Symphony. If you MUST have the Fourth, you have only this choice of coupling, but the new listener will be, I think, happier with the Segerstam and the Fifteenth.
Copyright © Mark Shanks, 1996