We didn’t really need this release. BIS has perfectly fine versions of these two symphonies already. Indeed, the Seventh, conducted by Leif Segerstam, is a bit better than this one, being a few minutes slower, grimmer, more atmospheric, just that much more cohesive, and just as well played. It’s the Reference Recording for the work. Mind you, Lindberg’s version is still very fine, excellently performed and often very exciting. The slightly quicker tempo permits BIS to squeeze the Seventh onto the same disc as the Fifth–two big, single-movement works lasting about forty minutes each.
In the earlier piece, though, Lindberg delivers at least as fine a performance as did Moshe Atzmon previously–perhaps even a bit better. Here the pacing is just about identical in both cases, but Lindberg builds those long, tense climaxes with greater clarity, and no loss of sheer power. Perhaps the couplings will help you come to a decision. The previous release includes the rather dreary posthumous Viola Concerto. Pettersson completists will necessarily already have that disc, but if you prefer to get maximum bang for your buck, this newcomer may be just the ticket. I began by saying that we didn’t really need this release, but it’s good to have all the same.