In the mid 1980s, Magnus Lindberg’s sound-world underwent a drastic overhaul. His mammoth work Kraft (1983-5) reveals a composer delving into the kaleidoscope of Modernism. Yet only a few years later, Lindberg’s works were sounding radically different, embracing tonal harmony, and drawing on a wealth of styles, from minimalism to Boulez. The works on this recent release bear a strong Neo-Romantic quality, if not in harmony, then in gesture.
Al Largo is a scintillating work bristling with detail. Orchestrations are lush and powerful, rarely retreating below piano, making for a dynamic and full-bodied experience. Commencing with a startling brass fanfare, Lindberg conjures up a series of vivid orchestral scenes, culminating in a joyous exultation.
“Orchestrations are lush and powerful, making for a dynamic and full-bodied experience“
The composer’s Second Cello Concerto is a rich, dynamic work, highly expressive in an almost Romantic sense. Despite this, gestures assume a more modernist character, unlocking the rich timbral profile of the cello. Certain features are shared throughout all three movements, particularly Lindberg’s bold and rhapsodic approach, with broad, sweeping melody a constant feature in the solo part. Anssi Karttunen delivers a consistently powerful performance, plumbing the work’s expressive depths and achieving brilliant contrast in the fluttering, ethereal passages. The first two movements feature primarily flowing melody, while the finale has a more energetic, driving personality, with triplet and semiquaver figures churning throughout the texture, passing from soloist to orchestra. Glorious chordal sonorities radiate towards the end of the movement, signalling an end to forward momentum, closing the work with ethereal harmonics.
The last work, Era, pulses with a brooding darkness, punctuated by passages of light, sunny woodwind. According to Lindberg, the ‘era’ in question is the early 20th century during the Great War, when music underwent some of its most radical changes. It’s one giant nod to the late Romantics and great revolutionaries of the period, with hints of cinematic lushness, impressionistic shimmer and post-Romantic excess emerging from the constantly evolving score.
The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra’s sound is rich and incredibly lustrous. Lindberg’s scores are full of complexity, the music transforming from rapid, sparkling filigree to broad, sweeping melody, which Hannu Lintu manages with great sensitivity and control.