Christian Lindberg and friends play Christian Lindberg
LINDBERG Fafner Fanfare for Four
Frogs (1998) Mandrake in the Corner (1998-2000) Doctor Decker-the
Dentist (1999) Catmania (1998-1999) Kinky Creatures (1998)
Salute to a Sausage Society (1999) Under the Pillow (1998-1999)
Kokakoka (1998-1999) Arabenne (1996-1997) An Awfully Ugly
HÖGBERG The Ballad of Kit
Christian Lindberg (trombone)
Trombone Unit 2000 (Sven-Erik Eriksson, Jonas Bylund, Häkan Björkman,
Jessica Gustavsson, Lars Westergren).
Christian Lindberg, Jonas Bylund, Jane Lennard Suff, David Hayens
Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lan Shui (Mandrake in the
Tapiola Sinfonietta conducted by Jean- Jacques Kantorow
BIS BIS-CD-1148 DDD
In February of this year I reviewed a
fine disc of contemporary Swedish trumpet concertos, brilliantly performed
by Håken Hardenberger (BIS-CD-1021). Within that review I commented
that Hardenberger had single-handedly created a new contemporary repertoire
for his instrument. His compatriot Christian Lindberg has done much the same
for the trombone with Takemitsu, Sandström, Berio and Dominic Muldowney
amongst the many composers (incredibly over seventy in all) who have written
works premiered by him. Above all he has created an interest in the instrument
which had simply not existed prior to his arrival on the international platform.
The difference here is that with the exception of one piece by Fredrik
Högberg the music is by Lindberg himself. His initiation into composition
is fairly recent with the earliest piece dating from 1996-1997. The majority
of the works are brief, scored for combinations of between one and six trombones
(several with narration of some kind) and in most cases decidedly
tongue-in-cheek. The notable exceptions are Mandrake in the Corner,
a "full blown" concerto of just under thirteen and a half minutes inspired
by the comic strip character created by Lee Falk and Arabenne, scored
for trombone and strings and again coming in at a substantial eleven minutes.
Of these two works Mandrake in the Corner is particularly enjoyable,
its three movements sounding not unlike the score of an action adventure
film with a touch of John Adams in places. In Arabenne east meets
west as Lindberg recalls musical memories of Jerusalem, the Jewish influence
clearly discernible in the work's modally orientated melodic content. I cannot
think of any other works scored for the unlikely combination of trombone
and strings yet Lindberg manages to achieve some effective textural variety
with, as you would expect, a highly virtuosic solo line packed with every
effect you can shake a stick at including flutter tonguing, chords, lip trills
and glissandos galore!
Of the remaining pieces, the Fafner Fanfare for Four Frogs draws on
medieval music as its primary influence and forms a punchy opener. The jazzy
Doctor Decker-the Dentist is great fun, the musical story of a dentist
who daydreams about his alternative career as a musician. Listen out for
the grind of the dentist's drill in the second movement, Time for
Surgery (or is it the patient's scream of pain?!!). Kokakoka
is a brief theatrical study in extended technique for solo trombone and narrator,
involving various vocal exclamations surrounding the Kokakoka of the
title as well an accompaniment of foot stamping, a kind of trombonist's one
man band. The remaining works I found to be of less interest although An
Awfully Ugly Tune is notable by virtue of its apt title. It is certainly
ugly but most of all awful.
Finally I have to single out the one non-Lindberg piece on the disc, Fredrik
Högberg's The Ballad of Kit Bones, a hilarious musical caricature
of Lindberg himself in which the six trombonists sing, barbershop style,
the story of Kit Bones, the fastest slide in the west. It's a kind of bone
fight at the OK corral complete with "slide shots" and dying groans from
the players as they are "shot".
Just one word of warning for the faint hearted. My review copy did not display
a "parental guidance" label as is customary with certain pop music releases
but the language is pretty daring on a couple of occasions!
I fear that anyone who is not a serious fan of either Lindberg or his instrument
could well reach the point of overkill around half way through this disc.
I found myself listening to it in a couple of sittings. The novelty items
are fine in small doses although overall it is the two more substantial works
that make the disc worthwhile. The standard of playing from all concerned
is exceptional with Lindberg demonstrating his staggering technique to impressive
effect. The recording is both vivid and well balanced.