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Christian LINDBERG (b. 1958) A Composer’s Portrait
Helikon Wasp (2003) for conducting trombonist and orchestra [16'31”] (a)
The World of Montuagretta (2001-2002). Concerto for Flute and Chamber Orchestra [20’50”] (b)
Condon Canyon (2000) for trombone and brass quintet [11'21”] (c)
´...Ty solen är uppe!´ (1999) for trombone and male-voice choir [9'26”] (d)
Behac Munroh (2004) for trumpet, trombone and orchestra [16'35”] (e)
(a) Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSESP)/Christian Lindberg (trombone/conductor/ voice)
(b) Sharon Bezaly (flutes)/Svenska Kammarorkestern/Christian Lindberg
(c) Stockholms Kammarbrass/Christian Lindberg (trombone)
(d) Christian Lindberg (trombone)/Orphei Drängar/Robert Sund
(e) Ole Edvard Antonsen (trumpet)/Christian Lindberg (trombone)/Basque National Orchestra/Cristian Mandeal
Rec. 2003/2004 in Brazil, Sweden and Spain. Notes and texts included. DDD.
BIS BIS-CD-1428 [76’29”]


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A composer’s portrait – but it could so easily be called “a performer’s portrait” given the number of other roles Lindberg takes on here. He serves as trombonist, conductor, vocalist, librettist even, and often several simultaneously. Alongside these multifarious roles there are a wide range of compositional influences to be spotted, also highlighted in Lindberg’s own sleeve-note. Indeed spreading the net even wider to look at his early memories of recordings, the field includes Dixieland band music, Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, the Beatles, Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Stockhausen, Mozart …

You quickly get the picture: an eclectic in every sense. This has most definitely fed Lindberg’s creative path. One admires the fact that it has driven him to expand the repertoire for his own instrument. Also a sense of irrepressibility comes though – boundless energy and, on my part, bafflement (or maybe slight envy, were I a composer) at how he manages to fit in composing alongside an already packed international schedule as performer. Lindberg acknowledges the hyperactivity within himself from a young age, and that music has helped him channel his energies. Quite how long he studied composition for, and how seriously, he does not say. He acknowledges a compositional coach, Jan Sandström, but omits any mention of ‘hands-on’ assistance with the works presented here. Not that it would overly trouble me if there was any, providing it’s acknowledged.

Unlike, say, Maazel with his ‘opera’ 1984, Lindberg does not make high claims for his compositions. Helikon Wasp and Behac Munroh are both reactions against the empty intellectualism that Lindberg sees infiltrating the music world – and here I would agree particularly with regard to contemporary composition. Like it or dislike it, Lindberg is his own man, and if there is any vanity herein it is not distastefully paraded.

So do I like it? Well, as one likes a curate’s egg, has to be my answer. I will not be returning to Helikon Wasp on a regular basis, its structure is too cut about for my liking. Condor Canyon and ‘…Ty solen äre uppe!’ display a keen ear for sonorities in brass or voice. His treatment of both is quite similar - not unsurprising for a brass player. The latter work’s setting of Strindberg for the choir is audacious, but brought off with atmosphere, and the trombone line adds an ominous, or otherworldly, feel at times.

From a performance point of view, and nearly the melodic one as well, it is Behac Munroh that comes off the best. Recorded after a series of live performances with these forces, the Basque National Orchestra shows itself far superior to the OSESP used for the Helikon Wasp recording. The experience and ear of conductor Cristian Mandeal shows over that of Lindberg himself in pushing the musical line to its limits, with the crucial percussive roles and held chords nicely captured. Jazzy passages are entered into with élan and come as welcome relief from the mounting static sonorities in strings and brass, that help frame the interplay between the soloists.

Alongside Behac Munroh it is The World of Montuagretta, concerto for flute and chamber orchestra, that is for me of greatest musical importance – should I choose to think in those terms for a moment. The general characteristics you will by now be familiar with, although you might well be startled in retrospect by realizing that Lindberg did not write this work for his own instrument, such is the staying power and beauty of some passages. Sharon Bezaly’s flute line is fluid and captivatingly thrown across the orchestral textures.

There are things here to interest and amuse, though maybe not for the long term. For some pieces one hearing will suffice, whilst others prove more resilient in the musical memory: take them at face value and nothing more. That BIS records, and orchestras continually commission, new works from him should be cause enough for Lindberg, and others, to raise a smile at the virtues of music for its own sake.

Evan Dickerson




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