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,
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.
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