LINDBERG Violin Concerto. Souvenir
Lindberg’s Violin Concerto of 2006 is the standout work in this latest instalment of his output from Ondine. It manages to balance substance with style, and poetry with virtuosity, in ways that can almost stand comparison with Berg (the distant but clear model for a number of its textures). Only the brevity of the fast concluding movement – under four minutes, as against 11 and 10 for the first two – strikes me as less than wholly convincing. Pekka Kuusisto, directing as well as playing, knocks a couple of minutes off Lisa Batiashvili’s timings in her world premiere recording with Sakari Oramo for Sony. Both performances strike me as outstanding and I would find it hard to choose one over the other.
The composer himself conducts the other two works, both for large chamber ensemble. Jubilees (2000/2002) is a relatively hard nut to crack. Its six movements are arrangements of a set of piano miniatures. Lacking both the punchy, rock-influenced immediacy of the earlier Lindberg and the more seductive poetry of more recent scores such as the Violin Concerto, they have an air of resourceful studies rather than of compelling expressive necessity – music to admire, certainly, for its mastery of colour and flow but not perhaps high on the list for further acquaintance.
Souvenir, composed in 2010 during Lindberg’s New York Philharmonic residency, is so titled in tribute to Lindberg’s teachers Gérard Grisey and Franco Donatoni. Despite his antipathy to the designation, he has acknowledged that the three movements are conceived as a type of chamber symphony, and they certainly have the leanness, range of texture and character, concentration and sense of evolution that are worthy of that name. Admittedly, following the train of thought isn’t always straightforward, and once again I have concerns about a shortish concluding movement that feels almost perfunctory. However, in this case repeated listening certainly pays off. Credit to the Tapiola Sinfonietta and Ondine’s excellent recording for presenting this and the other works on the disc in the best possible light.