CHRISTIAN LINDBERG (b.1958): The Waves of Wollongong for 9 Trombones and Orchestra (The New Trombone Collective), Liverpool Lullabies for Trombone, Percussion and Orchestra, 2017 for Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 01W052
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: This is absolutely terrific! Lindberg took up his career as a composer relatively late - he was 40 when he wrote his first serious composition "as an experiment", having established himself as one of the greatest trombone virtuosi ever, while also pursuing a career as a major conductor - but his accessible, appealing, tonal idiom, highly expressive of a wide range of emotions and concerns, from music of serious intent to humorous slapstick, has ensured a continuous flow of compositions ever since. He 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'. In all three fields of activity 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. The Waves of Wollongong is a stunning symphonic poem in linked sections, with the added sonic thrill of a concertante group of nine trombones. It began as a response to the ocean vistas and rolling waves off the Australian coast, but was waylaid during composition by the news of the serious illness of the inimitable Robert von Bahr of BIS, which introduced intense human drama to the monumental naturescape. You can hear fate's catastrophic hammer blows fall, and the stunned stillness that follows. Episodes of turbulent, undulating motion and glassy calm alternate with rudely energetic rambunctiousness, but finally the rolling wave motif sweeps away the catastrophe, and the piece ends in exultant fanfares. Liverpool Lullabies is a great deal more impressive than its title might suggest. Lindberg became acquainted with the city while composing this concertante work, and the piece speaks to its mystery, historical significance, troubled episodes and more recent recovery, and cultural background. The "lullabies" are products of the composer’s fertile melodic imagination, and are as memorable as one might hope of tunes associated with the Beatles' city. Dark sections suggest the grime of the Industrial Revolution and the decaying slums and riots during the city’s recessions; episodes of boisterous energy and melodic warmth the bustling activity and industry of a major cosmopolitan centre; the active, varied score is as multifaceted as the city itself, and the virtuoso duo is afforded many opportunities to show off, especially in the rip-roaring "finale". 2017 is a remarkable feat of epic symphonic poem composition depicting a very troubling episode in history that doubles as pitch-perfect musical satire. The piece is Lindberg's commentary on the aftermath of the 2016 US election, composed precisely within 2017, and with movement titles like "The World Upside Down" and "Fake News" one is left in no doubt about the dismay that he felt during that time. It begins with a massive, portentous introduction that would not be out of place as the title music of a (corny but apocalyptic) disaster movie. The second and fourth movements are inner landscapes, gently mourning away from all the noise, in a rather Sibelian atmosphere. The germ of "Fake News" rudely intrudes on the first of these idylls. You can apply whatever program suits you to this disturbing scherzo diabolico with its alternation of self-perpetuating motoric bombast, raucous outbursts, and unctuous sliminess, but it won’t be a comforting one. The movement gathers the momentum of a virally spreading conspiracy theory, before the inverted world motif blasts it away. The vacuously pompous, strutting fifth movement bears the title "The Bragger" - whoever could Mr Lindberg be thinking of? - then after a pained pause for reflection (introduced by a blast of fake news - the piece abounds in this kind of clever thematic self-reference), the finale gathers reminiscences of earlier movements before setting off on a nightmare funhouse fugato "Train from Hell" (yes, that’s its title). Evelyn Glennie (percussion), Christian Lindberg (trombone), Antwerp Symphony Orchestra; Christian Lindberg.