Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg served as the New York Philharmonic’s Composer-in-Residence for three years. As this new recording attests, it was time well-spent. The release features three live recordings of Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic performing music Lindberg composed for them. And what compositions!
Lindberg’s second piano concerto, finished in 2012, is a lush, post-modern work that never lets up on the drama. The roiling piano solo (effectively executed in this performance by Yefim Bronfman) has some of the quality Liszt and Rachmaninov, cast in a more advanced tonal language. This is an expansive and powerful work, and one that has the potential to become a repertoire standard.
Framing the piano concerto on the disc are two shorter works for orchestra. EXPO (2009) is a bristling showpiece that serves as an exciting and appealing curtain-raiser. Al largo (2009) is a more substantial work. It begins with a heroic fanfare, then as thematic crosscurrents play across the orchestra, the work seems to shimmer with continual motion. The combination and recombination of instruments and sections the instruments keeps Al largo moving along until the listener arrives at its unexpected — but in retrospect quite logical — finish.
The works, the performances, and the recording itself is all top-notch. A triumph all the way around.
Magnus Lindberg: Expo, Piano Concerto, No. 2, Al Largo
New York Philharmonic; Alan Gilbert, conductor; Yefim Bronfman, piano