The latest Magnus Lindberg disc from Ondine features two recent works that are travelling widely: Accused for soprano and orchestra, setting three interrogation texts, and Two Episodes which can be performed as an orchestral upbeat to Beethoven’s Symphony No.9.
Ondine’s latest release of works by Magnus Lindberg (ODE13452) combines two strands of the composer’s output. The first is his career-long fascination with pure orchestral sonorities as heard in Two Episodes, the second is his much more recent exploration of writing for the voice represented by Accused. This setting of three interrogation texts from three eras and in three languages features Anu Komsi as the intrepid soprano soloist, who has been touring the work extensively. She has performed Accused in Helsinki, Toronto, Hamburg, Gothenberg, Stockholm, Paris and Berlin, with conductors Hannu Lintu - as on this new recording with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra - and with Sakari Oramo.
> Listen to Accused on Spotify
Accused was composed in 2014 to a commission by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Radio France, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra and Carnegie Hall. The premiere of the 38-minute work took place at the Royal Festival Hall under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski while Lindberg was Composer-in-Residence with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It is only Lindberg’s second major work to feature the human voice following GRAFFITI, and focuses on a solo voice rather than the choral forces in the earlier score. The composer has since gone on to write a third work with voices, Triumph to Exist, setting Swedish poetry by Edith Södergran for choir and orchestra.
Accused explores the theme of the individual under attack from the state, with the virtuosic soprano switching roles between interrogator and defendant. Lindberg's chosen texts are extracts from an interrogation of a victim (Mademoiselle Théroigne de Méricourt) amidst 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.
Two Episodes dates from 2016 and is rich in allusions to the music of Beethoven. The work’s premiere preceded that composer’s Symphony No.9 at a BBC Proms concert in London, and the most obvious links are the paired orchestration, use of the dotted theme of Beethoven’s first movement and an ending on the open interval of a fifth. This expectant gesture can lead directly into Beethoven’s symphony, or the work can stand independently. It has been programmed widely in both contexts, with 12 international performances to date and many scheduled for the Beethoven 250th year which have sadly had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The composer writes: "My music falls naturally into two distinct sections: one is linked to the massive impact of the first movement with its immense tutti writing, full of bold sounds and energy, while the second is closer to the beauty of the slow movement and acts as a bridge towards the open fifth A and E and its D minor destination.”
Recent composition projects for Magnus Lindberg have included a Beethoven-inspired ode for premiere by the Rotterdam Philharmonic and a new orchestral score commissioned by the Chicago Symphony. Both works are announced for the 2020/21 season, with performances pending updates on the COVID-19 situation.
> Further information on Work: Accused
Photo: Philip Gatward
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