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
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.
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.
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.