Lindberg: Cantigas; Cello Concerto; Parada; Fresco

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WORKS: Cantigas; Cello Concerto; Parada; Fresco
PERFORMER: Christopher O’Neal (oboe), Anssi Karttunen (cello); Philharmonia Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen
With his hugely successful Related Rocks festival on London’s South Bank, his appearances at the Proms and an impressive series of recordings of his works (mostly on Ondine), the Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg has now firmly established himself as one of the few genuinely popular composers of ‘modernist’ music. This new disc from Sony offers four recent scores in world premiere recordings.


In Fresco, Lindberg contrasts music of almost chamber-like delicacy with characteristically huge chords topped by screaming brass. The composer refers to the latter as ‘pillars’ and there is indeed an architectural strength and solidity sensed throughout Lindberg’s music. Immensely powerful structures are sustained like a massive bridge, with periodic moments of crisis, allowing the tension (but never the interest) to dip before once more building to a climax.

Cantigas sets up a series of terraced tempo relationships: five ‘cycles’, each containing a meticulously calibrated network of increasing and diminishing tempi. Parada is generally more slow-moving – it has the quality of a threnody – but with interpolated scherzo figuration producing the signature amalgam of time-scales. The Cello Concerto, with Anssi Karttunen the excellent soloist, is another radical solution to the age-old challenges thrown up by this particular genre.


No conductor is more sympathetically attuned to Lindberg’s sound-world than Esa-Pekka Salonen, the composer’s friend from student years. The performances he draws from the Philharmonia are outstanding in every respect.