Magnus Lindberg: EXPO - Piano Concerto No. 2 - Al largo
01 May 2013
David's Review Corner
The Finnish-born Magnus Lindberg has become one of the most successful and fashionable composers born in the second half of the 20th century. Generally working in the world of tonality, and showing his points of inspiration by quotations from other composers, the disc is replete with easily accessible music often painted in primary colours.
Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic in 2009, Expo
is a short orchestral showpiece that reflects the pleasing appointment of Alan Gilbert as the Philharmonic’s new Music Director. Lindberg had already written a wide range of symphonic music including five concertos, the second, for piano, being completed in 2012. While in some ways it continues in the mode of the Romantic concertos, it contrasts that style when frequently placing the soloist as a lone voice against a very differing orchestral backdrop. Neither is it, in the accepted sense, a virtuoso score, but it is exceedingly difficult and calls for sheer stamina in its highly charged writing. In the conventional three movements, it does not contain the usual moment of calm in the second, while the finale is akin to the classical Rondo. Certainly requiring all the skill of the great pianist, Yefim Bronfman, the score gives the soloist hardly any physical respite. Al Largo
is translated by the composer as being ‘offshore’, the work readily depicting the unremitting force of the sea, its depth and feeling of impenetrable vastness. In content it is mainly hyperactive and obviously placing huge demands on the musicians. At times I find Lindberg’s music coming very close to a Hollywood film backdrop, particularly in the moments of tranquility. Taken from concert performances over the past four years, the sound is quite spectacular…