A Lindberg Extravaganza
A Tribute to Dorsey, Miller and Teagarden (arr. Andrea Tarrodi) [8:59]
A Tribute to Jussi Björling (arr. Anders Högstedt) [10:51]
Jan SANDSTRÖM (b. 1954)
Song to Lotta (1991) (adapted for solo trombone and wind ensemble by Anders Högstedt) [4:06]
A Night at the Opera (arr. Anders Högstedt) [14:06]
Richard RODGERS (1902-1979)
My Funny Valentine (arr. Per-Olof Ukkonen) [5:30]
A Christian Song (1998) (adapted for solo trombone and wind ensemble by Anders Högstedt [3:41]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
La Primavera (Spring), Op. 8 No. 1 (arr. for alto trombone and wind ensemble by Anders Högstedt) [9:45]
Oskar LINDBERG (1887-1955)
Gammal fäbodpsalm från Dalarna (arr. for solo trombone and wind ensemble by Per-Olof Ukkonen) [4:22]
Christian Lindberg (trombone and vocals)
Swedish Wind Ensemble/Hans Ek
rec. Nacka Aula, Sweden, November 2009
Christian Lindberg first came to my attention in Kalevi Aho’s Symphony No. 9 for trombone and orchestra – review – but this new CD is much less formal. As Lindberg writes in the booklet, it’s intended as a thank you to ‘fans and supporters on YouTube, Facebook and other websites’; this modern, media-savvy approach extends to the irreverent cover artwork, in which Lindberg poses as Antony Gormley’s aeroplane-winged ‘Angel of the North’. These diverse media and cultural references are reflected in the music, which ranges from arrangements of Vivaldi and Puccini through to Big Band medleys, Broadway hits and Swedish folk songs.
The recital opens with a daisy chain of big tunes, the deliciously laid-back I’m Getting Sentimental Over You setting the tone for this engaging mélange. Then Lindberg really gets in the swing with Glenn Miller’s signature piece, In The Mood; as for that evergreen, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Song of India, it’s dispatched with great panache. Then there are affectionate – and idiomatic – homages to the likes of Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and Irving Berlin. The arrangement of the latter’s 1926 hit, Blue Skies, is wonderfully winsome, while Frank Perkins’ jazz standard, Stars Fell on Alabama, stays just this side of sentimentality. Arranger Andrea Tarrodi’s work is most artfully done, but it’s Lindberg’s expressive range that really grabs the attention here.
The tribute to Jussi Björling, Sweden’s most famous tenor is very different but no less infectious. Mixing operetta, opera and song – including Millöcker, Leoncavallo and Nordqvist – it manages to be both refulgent and rhythmically adept. Lindberg’s articulation and general stylishness are wonders to behold. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the recording – warm and detailed – is balanced in favour of the soloist, whose distinctive timbres are especially well caught by Ingo Petry and his team. Anders Högstedt, the band’s full-time arranger, has come up with a potpourri of real charm and character. In spite of its eclectic content, it all hangs together tolerably well.
The programme is nicely varied, too; the lighter Song to Lotta – written for a little girl who admired Sandström’s Motorcycle Odyssey but wanted something simpler to play – is a short but atmospheric piece. It’s presented here in Högstedt’s glowing adaptation for trombone and wind band. What a lovely gift, and so winningly played by all concerned. I haven’t enjoyed a trombone this much since I chanced upon Edward Gregson’s Trombone Concerto, played with style – and astonishing maturity – by the young Peter Moore (Chandos CHAN 10627).
Puccini was a great tunesmith, so it’s only right he should be at the heart of A Night at the Opera. The crashing chords that announce the start of Tosca are robbed of some weight in the switch to wind band, but that’s more than compensated for by the point and humour of Papageno’s famous aria from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. The light, bright tones of the alto trombone are ideal for this perky little piece, which modulates seamlessly into the long, singing lines of ‘Un bel di, vedremo’ from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Here Lindberg really captures the ineffable, horizon-searching sadness of the abandoned courtesan, longing for her husband’s return.
As for ‘Dio, che nell'alma infondere’, the Carlos/Posa duet from Don Carlos, it’s firmly voiced and superbly virile, the timbres of Verdi’s original remarkably well preserved. Returning to Tosca, Lindberg brings real ardour and a soaring line to Cavaradossi’s great aria, ‘E lucevan le slelle’, but the Bizet is spoilt for me by the bland, rumty-tumty arrangement. That said, Lindberg is relaxed and confident, clearly enjoying every minute of this music.
In his liner-notes Lindberg describes Per-Ola Ukkonen’s arrangement of Rodgers’ My Funny Valentine as ‘funky’; not surprising, really, as it’s a supremely jazzy piece. From that low-key beat at the start it develops into a captivating little number, with splendid brass playing and a sure sense of rhythm. All very different from A Christian Song, Sandström’s 40th birthday present to Lindberg. Its punning title conceals music of touching simplicity and charm, presented here in another of Högstedt’s luminous adaptations. Not to be forgotten, Hans Ek is a sympathetic and discreet accompanist throughout.
The joyful pyrotechnics of ‘Spring’, from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, hold no terrors for our soloist, his trills as even as they are exhilarating. Initially I was surprised by Lindberg’s ad hoc ‘vocals’ – a cartoonish cackle – but it really needs to be taken in the irrepressible, Puckish spirit in which they are uttered. That said, I don’t want to hear La Primavera again, probably because the original is so horribly overexposed. I’ve no such aversion to Ukkonen’s arrangement of Oskar Lindberg’s Old Pastoral Hymn from Dalarna. Its mournful, winding melody is played with great feeling and an astonishing purity of line.
Warm, witty and ever so slightly weird, one senses this album is a good reflection of Lindberg’s personality. While not everything here is truly memorable – and the orchestra is a little too recessed at times – the solo playing most certainly is.
Slight, perhaps; engaging, certainly. Great fun.
Slight, perhaps; engaging, certainly. Great fun.