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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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Arabenne and other trombone works from the North
Christian LINDBERG (b. 1958)

Arabenne, for trombone and strings (1996-97)1 [11:05]
Vagn HOLMBOE (1909-1996)

Concerto No. 12, Op. 52 (M. 169) (1950)2 [14:04]
Mats LARSSON (b. 1965)

Concerto for trombone and wind instruments (1995)3 [21:03]
Kalevi AHO (b. 1949)

Symphony No. 9, for trombone and orchestra (1993-94)4 [31:19]
Christian Lindberg (trombone)
1Tapiola Sinfonietta/Jean-Jacques Kantorow
2Aalborg Symphony Orchestra/Owain Arwel Hughes
3Östgöta Blåsarsymfoniker/Arie van Beek
4Lahti Symphony Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä
rec. November 1998, Tapiola Concert Hall, Finland (Lindberg); June 1996, Aalborghallen, Aalborg, Denmark (Holmboe); May 1996, Linköping Concert Hall, Sweden (Larsson); January 1995, Ristinkirkko, Lahti, Finland (Aho)
BIS CD 888 [78:48]
Experience Classicsonline

I first heard the multi-talented Christian Lindberg as the trombonist in the BIS recording of Kalevi Aho’s Symphony No.9, which also forms part of this compilation. (For a detailed review of this work see my Aho survey.) In Arabenne Lindberg is composer, conductor and soloist; he has combined the first two roles since, most notably in the BIS recording of his haunting piece, The World of Montuagretta (see review).

Not surprisingly, Arabenne is a highly virtuosic work. In his liner-notes Lindberg says the idea was that he and the Swedish string ensemble Musica Vitæ would commission a trombone piece from fellow Swede Jan Sandström, who in turn suggested Lindberg do the honours instead. The result is a marvellously rich and quirky piece that, for reasons unknown to its composer, has a noticeably Middle Eastern flavour. The sinuous trombone passages and pizzicato strings give way to trombone glissandi and, at 2:17, some deliciously ripe interjections, too.

There is much animation in this one-movement work, which also has some trenchant writing for the strings. But it’s the soloist who gets the most original passages, with what can only be described as high-register trills from 3:20 onwards. It’s a mark of Lindberg’s skill that he pulls this off without any sign of unevenness or strain.

Even in the short, melancholic passage that follows Lindberg maintains a full, resonant sound, very well captured by the BIS engineers. In his solo he coaxes some astonishing sonorities from the trombone, not to mention some earthy blasts from 9:30 onwards. There’s a spirited dash to the finish and a final, defiant riposte from the soloist. This is most diverting, the composer more carefree and extrovert than in the reflective – and intense – World of Montuagretta, written several years later.

We go back nearly half a century to the Holmboe concerto. Cast in three movements, but played without a break, it has a strongly formal character, the soloist well integrated into the musical texture. The rhythms of the opening Allegro – forthright, with Nielsen-like snare drums included – is very supple, Lindberg’s more inward contributions beautifully essayed above quiet strings.

The Andante tranquillo has some of the most elegiac and expressive trombone playing you’re likely to hear anywhere. Alas, it’s much too short and soon we’re plunged into the final Allegro, with its perky, well-defined rhythms. I was struck by Owain Arwel Hughes’ judicious blend of orchestral discipline and brio, the Aalborg band sounding crisp and characterful throughout. An underrated maestro, I think, and one who surely deserves to be more widely heard.

Mats Larsson received his commission for a trombone concerto from the Swedish National Concert Agency and the Östgöta wind band. As he explains in the CD booklet, he wanted to focus on the trombone’s ‘lyrical and dramatically expressive aspects’. This is abundantly clear from the long, mournful solo lines that open this work. There is a vaguely jazzy feel to the writing at times, underpinned by dense, brooding accompaniment from the Östgöta players.

This is by far the most angular and audibly ‘modern’ piece here, with some rough and insistent orchestral figures and upper-register pyrotechnics from the soloist. Cast in a single movement this music is punctuated by bracing percussive episodes – from 5:40, for example – but broadly it’s a series of contrasting sections in which the soloist is often absorbed into the orchestral mix. It’s a much brighter, more forceful piece than either the Lindberg or the Holmboe but there is plenty of bass weight and thrust as well. The recording is a little forward, but not bright, which seems entirely appropriate here.

Lindberg’s long, singing trombone lines are most impressive, as is his ability to cope with some of Larsson’s more athletic melodies. The Östgöta band sound polished enough, the wide-ranging recordings notable for its muscular bass and clear, unexaggerated treble. In the extended solo passage Lindberg plays with considerable warmth and fluidity, rather confirming his reputation as one of the most accomplished trombonists around.

Lindberg doesn’t disappoint in the Aho piece either. This is the most substantial and rewarding item on what is already a very well filled disc (nearly 79 minutes); indeed, the formidable Symphony No. 9 also confirms Aho’s stature as one of Finland’s finest living composers. The playing in all four of these works is very good indeed, as are the recordings. A mandatory purchase for anyone interested in the modern trombone and one of its most invigorating and versatile exponents.

Dan Morgan


 


 




 


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