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Magnus Lindberg's newest work, Accused for soprano and orchestra, explores the individual under attack from the state. Barbara Hannigan is soloist in this first collaboration with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski under the composer's new residency.

The world premiere of Magnus Lindberg's Accused, the first work in his output to employ a solo voice, takes place at the Royal Festival Hall in London on 28 January. Soprano Barbara Hannigan joins the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Vladimir Jurowski for this first commissioned work under Lindberg's new residency with the LPO. Accused is co-commissioned by Radio France, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra and Carnegie Hall in New York, with eight further performances planned in future seasons.

Bearing the subtitle 'three interrogations for soprano and orchestra', Accused explores three documented cases of the individual under attack from the state, from three countries and three different centuries. Lindberg's chosen texts are extracts from an interrogation of a victim (Mademoiselle Théroigne de Méricourt) of the turbulent events surrounding the French revolution, the transcript of a Stasi interrogation in East Germany during the 1960s and the transcript of the trial of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, convicted in the USA of espionage linked to the release of classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Lindberg describes the origins of the new score: “The earliest idea about writing my first work for vocal soloist and orchestra was that it would not set a single text in monologue fashion. Rather it would employ a polylingual approach to explore more complex constellations, following the model of Berio’s Epifanie, which is one of my favourite pieces. The idea of setting three interrogations appealed as they use French, German and English, and inhabit different time periods through history, yet share a common theme. The texts from Revolutionary France, the GDR and the USA are political, but Accused is not a personal manifesto. It is about freedom of speech in general terms and I could just as readily have used transcripts from countries like Russia or China.

“The dramatic aspect comes from the struggle of the singer against the orchestra, rather like the individual pitted against the collective will of the state. It is not a simple vocal line with accompaniment but a more complex relationship, generating friction and some extreme contrasts. I’m looking for something beyond the courtroom situation, exploring the spaces between the matter-of-fact transcribed lines and providing the soloist with opportunities to explore characterisation in a theatrical context.”

Further Lindberg performances under his three-year residency with the LPO include the UK premiere of Piano Concerto No.2 on 21 March at the Royal Festival Hall conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, with pianist Yefim Bronfman who has given 14 performances since the concerto’s premiere in 2012 and can be heard on a Da Capo CD release with the New York Philharmonic. The same month also brings performances of two Lindberg concertos in Scotland on 6 and 7 March: the Violin Concerto with Renaud Capuçon and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Robin Ticciati and the Clarinet Concerto with Kari Kriikku and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under the baton of Thomas Søndergård.

>  Further information on Work: Accused

Photo: Philip Gatward

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