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Magnus Lindberg: Cantigas premiere in Cleveland

(June 1999)

Magnus Lindberg’s Cantigas was given a "vibrant and eloquent" premiere (Cleveland Plain Dealer) by the Cleveland Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnányi on 1 April, signalling the continuing discovery of the Finnish composer’s music by leading orchestras in the USA: the past 12 months have also witnessed the premiere of Fresco by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the first American performance of Feria by the New York Philharmonic. Performances of Cantigas in Europe are already scheduled for 2000, with the Ensemble Modern Orchestra under George Benjamin touring the work to Cologne, Frankfurt and Vienna in February, the Royal Flanders Philharmonic performing it in Antwerp in March as part of the composer’s residency with the orchestra and the Sibelius Academy Orchestra under Leif Segerstam giving the Finnish premiere at the 2000 Turku Festival before touring the work in Germany.

Cantigas draws its inspiration in part from the melodic artistry of the medieval troubador tradition, particularly that of the Minnesingers and the celebrated Iberian song repertory as hinted at by the work’s title. The interval of the open fifth, a distinctive colour of much medieval music, is proliferated throughout the work to provide melodic and harmonic content, ranging from an oboe monody through to thrilling mass sonorities. A distinct Mediterranean flavour with warm orchestral hues has become characteristic of Lindberg’s recent music, including Feria with its references to Spanish public festivities and Fresco with its musical paralleling of the techniques and structures of Italian cathedral art. Also common to all three works is the instrumental virtuosity, the invigorating pace of events, and the bracing physical energy that have attracted so many leading orchestras, ensembles and conductors to his music.



"At times, the effect is somewhat like that of a whirlwind gone amok. Instrumental sections converge and part with astonishing speed, traversing millions of notes that result in a spectrum of shadings and roaring sonorities… The most startling moment comes near the end, when a big shining harmonic modulation appears on the horizon, almost as if to signal the culmination of Lindberg’s musical ideas…Dohnányi was in full command of the score, achieving striking definition of rhythms and layers of sound." Cleveland Plain Dealer


> Further information on Work: Cantigas

© Kira Gluschkoff

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