CHRISTIAN LINDBERG (b.1958): Steppenwolf for Viola and Orchestra, Tales of Galamanta, Peking Twilight.

Catalogue Number: 05T012

Label: BIS

Reference: 2308

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $19.98

Description: Lindberg tells us that: "I do not write in any style whatsoever! I just listen to what my brain and my soul tell me, and what I hear I simply put down on paper. To say anything more about my work would be pretentious nonsense." Here follows some pretentious nonsense for your delectation. When we all first encountered him, he was the extravagant virtuoso of the trombone, who could play anything with the utmost panache and apparently superhuman skill, who donned motorcycle leathers to play Jan Sandström's Motorbike Concerto. Now he has a justly major career writing exactly the music that that guy would write, alongside his parallel career as a major conductor. In all three fields, he seems to be preternaturally adept at "listen[ing] to what [his] brain and soul tell" him, and communicating it to the rest of us with clarity, depth and profound emotional resonance. His models are the usual suspects among 20th century tonal greats, plus a free association of ideas from all over the map that just happened to fit the music at that point; a wonderfully fecund, Joycean creative process (based on disciplined processes at which he hints in his notes). Steppenwolf is a Romantic journey from lost to found, or uncertainty to revelation, featuring a solo instrument traditionally regarded as a bit of a poor relation of its peers in adjacent registers. The link to the existential crisis of the protagonist of Hesse's novel apparently occurred to Lindberg after the event. The work abounds in gorgeous harmonies, lively rhythmic contrasts and the sense of theatre, and the leavening humor that invades his most serious utterances, that are never far from Lindberg's work. Tales, from a city invented by the composer as the setting for a music theatre piece, borrows material from the stage work and encapsulates its high drama of love and death in a kind of 'symphonic suite from the opera' full of cinematically vivid narrative. The title Peking Twilight came before the piece, and the music was written to suggest something mysterious, exotically colored, scented and sounding, and full of musical and associative puns. The composer's joy in his craft shines through all these pieces, and his enthusiasm is irresistibly infectious. Rafael Altino (viola), Odense Symphony Orchestra; Christian Lindberg.

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