MAGNUS LINDBERG (b.1958): Aura for Orchestra, Marea for Orchestra, Related Rocks for 2 Pianos, 2 Perussionists and Electronics.

Catalogue Number: 05W062

Label: Ondine

Reference: ODE 1384-2

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: After exorcising the modernist extravagance of Kraft in the mid-1980s, with its 'found' junkyard percussion, vast orchestra, electronics and just about anything else you can think of, Lindberg progressively consolidated his remarkable, highly personal compositional style, centered on his virtuosic treatment of huge orchestral forces and his unique harmonic language, constantly suggesting tonal centers and tonal harmony, and achieving a sense of inexorable movement without relying on conventional key relationships. It is these characteristics that make the monumental Aura, to this date Lindberg's most expansive orchestral work, resemble a symphony, though the composer resists the suggestion that it was conceived as one. The first movement is complex, presenting huge floes of material in its initial stages and exploring their intricacies in detail later. Despite his modern idiom, a constant feature of Lindberg's style - throughout this work and, indeed, his entire output - is the sudden emergence of towering tonal features, grand, stirring and as often as not distantly referring to Sibelius. In the latter part of the movement, the textures thin out to allow a series of solos, duos and small ensembles to emerge into the spotlight, in virtuosic instrumental interchanges that suggest a concerto for orchestra - another label that Lindberg rejects - but which really serve to further establish his effortless compositional virtuosity. The second movement, which enters without a break, is a kind of immensely slow chorale, like towering cliffs of ice. The music's gradual traversal of this monumental landscape is illuminated by the glittering gamelan effects of the percussion, like light reflected from ice. The eruption of energy that follows is unmistakably a scherzo, full of scurrying arabesques and unpredictable volcanic effusions. The wild energy of this movement suddenly coalesces into rapid post-minimalistic propulsion to introduce the final. The textures become denser and more diverse, but the accumulated momentum persists, progressively becoming a polyrhythmic whirlwind culminating in a pulsating climax. The final section, though, suddenly emerges into a vast, Sibelian landscape, over which the music hovers, immobile, and fades away. Related Rocks would suggest geology, even without its title. Its cascades of scintillating gestures from pianos and mallet percussion are like crystals of different forms, set in a fluid matrix of rubbed metal and glistening electronic sounds, created by sophisticated sound-transformation software developed at IRCAM. But the textures are in constant, high-energy polyrhythmic motion, as though the vibrating atoms in the minerals were rendered visible. And true to his apparently paradoxical habit of abruptly condensing apparently chaotic material into solid, recognizable forms, the gestures and arpeggiated figurations of the pianos in the piece’s later part sound suspiciously like those of grand romanticism. As for the deliciously absurd circus galop that appears out of nowhere to hurtle towards the work’s conclusion, that should put paid to any suspicion of excessive seriousness in Lindberg’s output. Marea is one of a loose triptych of works that followed a few years after Kraft, and its dense, surging textures are well on the way to the composer’s fully mature style. A kind of harmonic chaconne with a dodecaphonic basis, the work’s variations ebb and flow suggesting the tides evoked by the title (applied after composition). Characteristically, the work has a monumental aspect, illuminated by spectralist blazes of color. Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Hannu Lintu.

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