Lindberg, M Orchestral Works

Fiercely written‚ fiercely played‚ fiercely good – vital music vitally performed

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Lindberg, M Orchestral Works

  • Cantigas
  • Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
  • Parada
  • Fresco

Hard on the heels of London’s ‘Related Rocks’ festival comes this similarly packaged collection of four recent orchestral pieces by Magnus Lindberg. A rebel whose early work was a poke in the eye for the Finnish musical establishment‚ a conscious rejection of the conservative musical language of Sallinen and Kokkonen‚ he has repositioned himself in the mainstream with a series of pieces that depend less on the theatrics of live performance and more on traditional‚ ‘classical’ notions of virtuoso orchestral writing and long­range harmonic thinking. The idiom is very much his own – Lindberg avoids post­modern style­shifting – but‚ if it helps‚ think Berio‚ Lutos¹awski‚ Sibelius and a lot of extra notes and apocalyptic drum thwacks. Lindberg has long enjoyed the sympathetic advocacy of Esa­Pekka Salonen‚ a conductor­composer perfectlycomfortable with the static soundscapes of acolleague like Kaija Saariaho (Sony Classical‚ A/01) but perhaps best able to exploit hisbrilliant technique in active music such as this.
All the works presented here are previously unrecorded. Cantigas begins calmly‚ the interval of a perfect fifth permeating its opening oboe melody. The argument quickly turns dark‚ extravagant and very loud‚ with the exceptionally busy surfaces that are a hallmark of this composer’s work. Some find the effect exhilarating. Others I know suspect that the near­constant presence of rapid figuration coruscating over slower­moving harmonies is driven by the availability of appropriate software. Wonderfully limpid passages‚ as exquisitely scored as anything in Oliver Knussen‚ coexist with near­cacophony. There may be a lack of heart‚ but‚ as in much of Lindberg’s recent music‚ the musical current is immensely compelling‚ the colours are precisely applied‚ and the closing bars bring a genuine and surprising sense of apotheosis.
Fresco‚ placed last on what is a very generously filled CD‚ ends on a unison but doesn’t ‘resolve’ its argument in quite the same way; it may prove a tougher nut to crack. Parada‚ the slowestmoving of these scores‚ is also the most frankly Sibelian‚ full of gestures and textures redolentof the inescapable Finnish master. While itsravishing invention is easy to enjoy‚ I wasn’tsure how it was meant to hold together‚ so this may or may not be the place to start for the uninitiated. If the Cello Concerto makes more sense‚ that isn’t because its idiom is less advanced (rather the reverse is true) but because there isa central protagonist whose progress we canfollow. And Lindberg provides Anssi Karttunen with some fantastical technical challenges along the way. One could not describe the results as emotionally compelling. Rather‚ they constitute an unmissable show.
Did I mention the brilliant performancesand top­notch recorded sound? I should perhaps add that Martin Anderson’s accompanying interview comes at the music at a slight tangent and that some of Lindberg’s responses riskperplexing the wider audience that this challenging and rewarding disc deserves to find. Strongly recommended even so.

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