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Music of Magnus Lindberg

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 4, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Four premier recordings add up to a generous dose of Magnus Lindberg's orchestral mastery, served up in lovingly prepared, magnificently engineered performances by the composer's friend and longtime champion Esa-Pekka Salonen. Within just a few minutes into Cantigas, you're swept up by swirling pools of color chords, ticklish brass flurries both muted and open, and chattering, petulant rhythmic figures that bounce off a pliable canvas of dense sonorities. Imagine Respighi's Pines of Rome Swiss-cheesed through a kaleidoscope, and you'll get the idea. Parada reveals a more austere side of Lindberg's protean talents, while the more sparely scored Cello Concerto showcases Anssi Karttunen's virtuosity. He deftly tosses off Lindberg's zigzagging melodic lines (which the orchestral members quickly answer or comment upon) and sails through a cadenza jam-packed with twitchy pizzicato pellets, buzz saw low notes, and suspenseful silences. Lastly, Fresco is a mega-study about loud and soft, laid out in huge sound blocks that effortlessly glide from gentle to aggressive. Booklet notes include clear, insightful, and informative composer comments. --Jed Distler
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Product Details

  • Performer: Anssi Karttunen
  • Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra of London
  • Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen
  • Composer: Magnus Lindberg
  • Audio CD (June 4, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • ASIN: B000066SKA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,929 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Sony Classical's recent release highlights three talented Finns: composer Magnus Lindberg, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, and cellist Anssi Kartunnen. The disc confirms Lindberg's place among those few composers who successfully combine innovation and communication, drawing the audience in to new sounds and techniques that other composers just aren't able to combine in as immediately attractive a way.

Production on the disc is excellent. The liner notes feature an informative, somewhat technical interview with the composer that touches upon important structural aspects of each work. Martin Anderson nails Lindberg's style when he writes: "...this surface busy-ness and longer-term harmonic evolution seem to exist as two parallel worlds - almost as if you have to look underneath the exterior of the music to see what's really going on." The fact that Lindberg creates such a gorgeous exterior out of such rigorous and intellectual planning is stunning. Sound quality is demonstration-worthy, the loudest, most complex counterpoint springing vibrantly to life (this is also, no doubt, due to the virtuosity of the Philharmonia and the dedication and ability of Salonen in music like this).

The first work on the disc, "Cantigas", was composed for the Cleveland Orchestra. The tempo relationships, intervallic content (focusing upon that very "tonal" interval, the perfect fifth) and "fundamental, open function of the bass" combine to make the piece instantly accessible. The piece is typically busy, in Lindberg's style from Corrente and other works from the 90s, and several listens reveal fascinating details and interconnections. It's amazing how virtuosic some of the writing is, and the wind and brass of the Philharmonia have a heyday. My jaw dropped several times.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding recording, a great major label showcase for Lindberg's forceful orchestral style, taking everything he learned as part of the avant-garde and applying it to works that are mainly tonal, with complex harmonies and rigourous internal development. My first impression of this music was that it was a sort of "generic modernism," but with repeated listening I realized that what led to this impression was the blending of romantic with modern elements.

Lutoslawski was a major influence on Lindberg's neotonal synthesis, which is interesting because the Polish composer incorporated modern influences into his more traditional approach, whereas with Lindberg it is the opposite, incorporating tonality into his modernism. Elliot Carter seems to me to be an influence as well, as there is a muscular and dynamic progression in every piece, and Sibelius is no doubt a factor as well.

Lindberg began as a resolutely avant composer with his first works of the early 1980s. After a retreat in the late '80s, he returned with a new sound, one he has pursued ever since. Some may lament this as a turn to the past, but the avant-garde is way out ahead of most listeners, and Lindberg is now meeting them more than half-way with music that is still complex and challenging.

Unfortunately Lindberg has not produced music the equal of that found here since, and so this essential Sony disc is the only Lindberg you really need. I'm hoping that Magnus gets his mojo back some time soon, but until then we have this fantastic set of four compositions that mark the high tide of his creativity and energy.
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Format: Audio CD
THE MUSIC OF MAGNUS LINDBERG is a Sony collection of four pieces by this great contemporary Finnish composer performed by the orchestra Philharmonia with Lindberg's old school chum Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting. Though Lindberg is still concerned with harmonies as he has been since the late 1980s, the pieces here inaugrate new techniques that set them apart from most of these earlier harmonic works. Two of the pieces here are thrilling, while the other two are fairly disappointed, so I am of mixed opinions about this disc.

"Cantigas" (1999) might be the finest piece Lindberg has written to date. While not a concerto, it gives an important role to the oboe, performed here by Christopher O'Neal. Based around the simple interval of a fifth, the piece marks a new phase in Lindberg's composition where pieces are more clearly broken into sections than before, allowing some room to breathe among the dense harmonies that Lindberg is known for. The five sections of "Cantigas" are cycles of increasing and decreasing tempos, and the music is very energetic and rhythmically compelling; Anssi Kartunnen writes that the room in which Lindberg composed the piece was littered with "empty instant espresso bags, energy drink cans, vitamin pill jars..." which explains a lot. I should note that "Cantigas" is a part of a "symphonic triptych" with "Feria" (1997) and "Fresco".

The "Cello Concerto" (1997-1999) was written for Anssi Karttunen, who performs here. Like "Cantigas", this piece is part of Lindberg's new technique of sectioning, and it is in five movements played without a break, each one of them divided into smaller sections. The concerto is similar to his early piece for cello and orchestra "Zona" in the use of a chaconne technique of continual variations.
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