Magnus Lindberg: EXPO - Piano Concerto No. 2 - Al largo
01 October 2013
The Juilliard Journal Online
Bruce HodgesIn the fall of 2009, Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg
began a two-year term as the New York Philharmonic’s composer-in-residence, a position initiated by Alan Gilbert (Pre-College ’85; M.M. ’94), the Phil’s music director and Juilliard’s director of conducting and orchestral studies. The collaboration was so successful that it was extended for a third year. This disc features the commissions that Lindberg completed during his tenure, starting with EXPO
(2009), an extravagantly scored showpiece for large orchestra with imposing textures that Gilbert weaves with utter confidence. Fluid lines dart about, separate and converge, reaching towering climaxes during the work’s 10 minutes.
In the Piano Concerto No. 2 (2011-12), Yefim Bronfman (’81) plunges into the sweeping first movement with its Impressionistic sections that make way for ominous marches. In the majestic second movement, filled with refulgent brass, the pianist alternates between introspection and explosive color. The tarantella-like passages from the opening reappear in the final movement, with Bronfman giving heroic effort to Lindberg’s demanding piano fireworks. Huge chords herald the concerto’s end as the orchestra sweeps in for a brilliant conclusion. Throughout, Gilbert elicits a powerful response from the players; the chemistry is palpable.
Exultant brass and scurrying strings open Al largo (2009-10), and listeners will continue to marvel at Lindberg’s orchestration skills, whose penchant for lushness and detail are reminiscent of Ravel. Gilbert brings clarity and suppleness to what might turn impenetrable in other hands. His sense of urgency, coupled with the expert response from the orchestra—the versatile percussion section in particular—makes the score pulse with life.
The glowing purple cover image is by British artist Anish Kapoor; Lawrence Rock did the engineering honors, capturing the three works at live performances in Avery Fisher Hall from 2009 through 2012.