Magnus LINDBERG (b. 1958)
Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano (2008) [19:29]
Santa Fe Project (2006) [14:24]
Partia for Cello Solo (2001) [13:51]
Dos Coyotes (1993, arr. 2008) [12:02]
Kari Kriikku (clarinet); Anssi Karttunen (cello); Magnus Lindberg (piano)
rec. Järvenpää Hall, 5-6 and 8 September 2011
ONDINE ODE 1199-2 [60:24]
Magnus Lindberg has often claimed the orchestra as his instrument. This statement, however, is somewhat misleading in that he has composed a good deal of piano music (Naxos 8.570542) as well as a number of chamber works, some of which have been available in various recordings. The release under review centres on his chamber works for cello. Interestingly, too, all but one of these works are fairly recent, composed between 2001 and 2008.
If taken chronologically, the earliest here is Dos Coyotes which is a reworking rather than an arrangement of a somewhat earlier work for ensemble Coyote Blues (1993). Originally the work was intended as a piece for voice and ensemble commissioned by the Rikskonserter agency in Sweden. Lindberg did not then feel ready for a vocal work and rather suggested an instrumental piece which became Coyote Blues. In this he incorporated material used in a work for the Tapiola Choir some time earlier. Much later still, the material was reworked by Karttunen and the composer with a new title. This lovely work is a good example of Lindberg's accessible, often melodic idiom as found in his recent music.
The Partia for Cello Solo was composed for the Turku Cello Competition. As may be expected the music is devised so as to exploit most, if not all, the expressive and technical possibilities of the instrument. It avoids falling into the trap of pure and vain virtuosity. The music is certainly technically demanding but the whole remains musically rewarding. As may be guessed too, the lay-out overtly looks back to similar suites by Bach and by some contemporary composers such as Jolivet.
Incidentally, Dos Coyotes has also been used as a general title for duo performance given by Karttunen and Lindberg, where Lindberg has revived his career as a performing pianist. The Santa Fe Project was composed for them to a commission from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the La Jolla Summer Festival. This delightful work may be experienced as a sort of compact cello sonata consisting of three concise and contrasted movements played without a break. Again, the music is typical of Lindberg's melodic and colourful writing although - as might be expected - it is still demanding from the purely technical point of view. It, too, receives a superbly committed reading.
“After the innumerable pieces he had written for my cello, for Kari's clarinet and for himself at the piano, a trio for all three of us was all that was missing” (Anssi Karttunen). The Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano is not only the most recent work here but also the most substantial. Each of the three movements bears a heading borrowed from the poetry of Gunnar Björling: Sound big, sound; Like the tranquillity we seek and Crash wave, crash respectively. It is not necessary to know any of Björling's poetry to be able to appreciate Lindberg's work. These headings hint sufficiently at the character of each movement but do not imply any programmatic intent. The first movement opens in an almost improvisatory manner in the bass register of the piano but the music soon opens up with the successive entries for the cello and later the clarinet. The ensuing dialogue develops roughly as an arch rising to a climax. The second movement is slow with an animated central section functioning as a Scherzo. The final movement opens with a slow introduction leading straight into a mostly lively and animated main section. It ends with a broad, appeased coda. This is a superb piece in which Lindberg allows his inner lyricism full rein.
The performances are immaculate and fully committed and again very well recorded. I also want to mention Kimmo Korhonen's excellent insert notes from which I have generously quoted.
All in all, this is a magnificent release that is a must for all Lindberg fans but should also appeal to anyone who enjoys accessible and warmly expressive contemporary music.
A most welcome survey of Lindberg's chamber works with cello.