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Magnus LINDBERG (b.1958)
Sculpture (2005) [22:56]
Campana in aria (1998)a [10:55]
Concerto for Orchestra (2003) [29:59]
Esa Tapani (horn)a
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo
rec. The House of Culture, Helsinki, 31 August 2007 (Sculpture), 31 January-1 February 2006 (Campana in aria) and 14-16 April 2008 (Concerto for Orchestra)
ONDINE ODE11242 [64:10]


Experience Classicsonline

As I remarked in my review of the Naxos recording of Lindberg’s complete piano music, he is best known for his works for ensemble and for orchestra. A selection of these is featured here. All three are fairly recent: Sculpture was completed as recently as 2005. This is a substantial work scored for fairly large orchestral forces including Wagner tubas, double-bassoons and bass clarinets but excluding violins. Bright fanfares rise from the dark introduction. The music gains considerable energy. There follows a chamber-like section highlighting individual instruments and/or groups of instruments. There are some allusions to Stravinsky here. The final section is a recapitulation in which the organ, silent until then, joins the orchestra for the grand peroration. The music fades away calmly. Sculpture is yet another of Lindberg’s works that confirm his remarkable orchestral flair and mastery. On the other hand, one cannot help but feel that some facility might be lurking here and there. Nonetheless, this is an imposing and superbly scored piece.

The very title of Campana in aria translates as “Pavillon en l’air” or “Bell up” - indications well known to horn players. This is a concise concertino dedicated to Esa-Pekka Salonen on his 40th birthday - remember that he was trained as a horn player. It derives some of its material from an early work for horn by Salonen. The solo part is supported by two horns placed on either side of the orchestra - often in close dialogue with the soloist. The music is brilliant, virtuosic and not without playfulness or humour - when the piccolo doubles the soloist in rapid passage works. This delightful though rather demanding work is a most welcome addition to the repertoire and clearly deserves wider exposure. Esa Tapani plays superbly throughout with impeccable technique and musicality.

Lindberg’s Concerto for Orchestra follows the model of Kodály, Bartók and Lutosławski. Like Bartók’s work, Lindberg’s Concerto for Orchestra is in five sections which play continuously. As in Sculpture, bright fanfares introduce the first section that alternates variously coloured episodes teeming with energy. A somewhat slower section follows although the opening fanfares are never far away - they function as a ritornello of sorts. At the heart of the work is an extended, almost chamber-like section introducing individual solos and cadenzas. This is followed by a shorter dance-like Scherzo. The final section recapitulates earlier material while adding some unexpected twists and turns. It unfolds to a bright climax punctuated by fanfares. After a pause, a final crescendo eventually leads to the apotheosis dissolving into the peaceful breathing of the closing bars. Lindberg’s Concerto for Orchestra is on a par with those of Kodály, Bartók and Lutosławski and undoubtedly deserves to be heard as often as them, although, to be frank, one does not hear Kodály’s Concerto for Orchestra often enough.

This beautifully played and engineered release is a magnificent addition to Lindberg’s growing discography. It should not be missed. I say this in spite of my rather minor reservation about Sculpture. It’s nevertheless a worthwhile piece of music. The superficial similarity between Sculpture and the Concerto for Orchestra points to the possible danger of facility, something that may happen to prolific composers. That said, I believe Lindberg to be ready and willing to renew himself within the framework of his fully matured style. One of his next projects is a work for chorus and orchestra - something he has never done before. So this might be an opportunity for renewal.

Make no mistake. I am one of Lindberg’s staunchest supporters and I enjoyed this very fine release enormously. For admirers but also for those who have yet to be convinced that contemporary music may be accessible and enjoyable.

Hubert Culot



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