> LINDBERG Cantigas SK89810 [HC]: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Magnus LINDBERG (born 1958)
Cantigas (1998/9)a
Cello Concerto (1997/9, revised 2001)b
Parada (2001)
Fresco (1997)
Christopher O’Neal (oboe)a; Anssi Karttunen (cello)b; Philharmonia; Esa-Pekka Salonen
Recorded : Abbey Road, Studio 1, London, November 2001
SONY SK 89810 [79:37]


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Magnus Lindberg’s music has been well served by recording companies, and quite deservedly so for it is superbly crafted, gripping in its own peculiar way, imaginative but always very accessible.

His recent works, i.e. from Kinetics onwards, show a renewed interest in harmony and a pronounced liking for full, almost lush orchestral textures. The present release, coupling four very recent pieces, amply proves the point. Here are four highly characterised, varied works in which Lindberg’s musical qualities are clearly evident. Lindberg’s music may often be complex in conception and technically demanding but it always communicates directly through its sheer drive and expressive power.

Fresco, completed in 1997, is a substantial work developing a near-symphonic argument, a kind of "meta-sonata-form" to quote Martin Anderson’s quite apt phrase. Lindberg admits that to work on a large-scale structure, one has to make some distinctions between sections in order to keep some logic. To a certain extent, Fresco might be experienced as a symphony, in all but the name, in much the same way as Aura which I consider his greatest work and, I dare say, his masterpiece so far.

The Cello Concerto, written between 1997 and 1999 and revised in 2001, is another powerful statement. Its single movement, though in several markedly characterised sections, is full of drama and often tense lyricism. Writing for Anssi Karttunen freed the composer from any inhibition he might have had. The solo part is extremely demanding both from the technical and the expressive points of view, but again this gripping score is hard to resist, such is its expressive power. I often find that composers generally confide their more personal statements in writing a cello concerto, and Lindberg is no exception.

Cantigas, completed in 1999, has an important part for oboe though it is basically an orchestral piece. Again orchestral forces are exploited to the full to render Lindberg’s often epic vision. And, at the risk of repeating myself, the music, in spite of its complexity and its elaborate harmonic scheme, communicates effortlessly.

The most recent work, Parada, completed in 2001, is an attempt at writing a predominantly slow movement, but the composer admits that it also has its more animated moments. Lindberg refers to Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony, but the music is pure Lindberg throughout.

These dedicated performances by artists enjoying a long association with Lindberg’s music cannot be bettered, and are superbly recorded.

After their recent and superb recordings of music by members of Korvat Auki ("Ears Open"), one hopes that the next release from SONY will be of recent works by another member of the group, Jouni Kaipainen who has also completed a cello concerto within the last twelve months.

Full marks to all concerned.

Hubert Culot

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