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Hubert Culot
MusicWeb International, December 2009

The complete recording of Lindberg’s present output for piano provides a fair appreciation of his stylistic journey over the years. Ralph van Raat’s immaculate playing and deep musicality cannot be bettered. © 2009 MusicWeb International

Hubert Culot
MusicWeb International, January 2009

This most attractive and musically rewarding programme is immaculately played by Ralph van Raat, superbly partnered by Maarten van Veen in the pieces for two pianos. Their vital readings are recorded in an excellent, natural acoustic. This is “Lindberg in a Nutshell” - quite a nutshell with a total playing time of more than seventy minutes! No admirer of Lindberg’s music should miss this.

Arnold Whittall
Gramophone, December 2008

Magnus Lindberg is best known on disc for his expansive, richly expressive orchestral scores such as Aura, as well as the recent clarinet and violin concertos. This survey of his music for one and two pianos shows where this later, utterly assured mainstream style comes from, and the result is quite a surprise.

Three works written between Lindberg’s 18th and 20th birthdays (1976–78) are exercises in the kind of Boulezian avant-gardism that was already passé (not least for Boulez himself) in the 1970s but which suited Lindberg down to the ground as he flexed his creative muscles. Obvious flaws, especially in the overlong Klavierstücke (1977), by no means cancel out the distinctive, beguiling blend of expressionism and understatement. In Play (1979)—the first part at least—there is both form and content of great imagination; and nearly a decade later, with Twine (1988), Lindberg is at his absolute best—controlled, challenging, but with a pervasive exuberance that distances the piece from its most obvious model, Berio’s Sequenza IV. Ralph van Raat is admirably attuned to the music’s intricate voicing and weighting, helped by a recording that gives the piano just the right amount of presence and space.

The later works that complete the disc—the six Jubilees (2020) and the two Etudes (2001, 20040—don’t mark that great an advance on Twine: nor is there any reason why they should. Jubilee v is the most immediately appealing—a punchy scherzo all the better for avoiding the hints of Messiaenic birdsong that crop up in some of the other pieces. If Lindberg doesn’t always shun predictable pattern-making in his later scores, he more than compensates by the technical bravura and uninhibited eclecticism which are given their fullest rein in the recent concertos.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2008

Born in Finland in 1958, the teenage Magnus Lindberg quickly established himself among the European forward thinking modernists, though as this disc shows, he has recently returned to a mainstream 20th century style.

His earliest published score, Musik for Tva Pianon, was completed when he was eighteen, and displays his generally slow moving mode of writing. The music, set within a rigid serial framework, is stark, brief bursts of activity within an environment where silence plays an important role. That feel of timelessness is extended in the Klavierstuck, composed the following year, strict adherence to dynamics and note values an essential requirement of the performer. There is a softening of those astringencies in Play I from 1979 and even more so in Twine completed in 1988. There followed a gap of almost twelve years before he began work on Jubilees to mark the 75th birthday of Pierre Boulez, a period where he begun introducing tonality into his scores, Debussy and Scriabin playing an important role. It is a highly attractive work where the music shimmers, the score adapting itself to the composer’s subsequent version for chamber orchestra. The final two tracks are given to the Two Etudes from 2001 and 2004 and show further Lindberg’s move towards tonality. From purely technical aspects the works are not difficult, but holding together such expanses of slow music provides its own challenge. The Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat, who is joined by Maarten van Veen in the Music for Two Pianos, is a highly persuasive advocate in charting that timeless temperament, the clarity of his playing much helped by the vivid sound engineering.

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