Christian Lindberg returns to the RNCM as soloist, conductor, and composer for a stellar evening of contemporary works and arrangements of classics with the RNCM Wind Orchestra – part of the College’s eclectic Summer Season.
Lindberg is widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest trombonists; in 2015 he was voted no less than The Greatest Brass Player In History by Classic FM. A prolific performer, he plays around 100 concerts a year all over the globe and has premiered over 300 works for the trombone, including more than 90 major concertos. On top of this he juggles a highly successful conducting career, working with some of the finest orchestras in the world, while being in constant demand as a composer.
For his concert at the RNCM, he performs a characteristically ambitious programme showcasing all of these talents. First we’ll hear Giuseppe Verdi’s La forza del destino Overture, arranged by Jerry Högstedt. Among all of Verdi’s operatic overtures, this stands as a particular concert favourite, and right from the off it’s easy to see why. Depicting the inevitable power of ‘fate’, its thundering opening brass notes are followed by a compendium of themes from the opera – a rich showcase of the dramatic power and melodic gift of one of Italy’s greatest composers.
Andrea Tarrodi’s Seamonts follows. A Swedish composer based in Stockholm, she’s the Nordic Chamber Orchestra’s Composer in Residence, whose synaesthesia guides her writing style: “Different notes and chords have different colours. When I was young, I was initially torn between painting and composing, and I still approach music through an artistic lens. I do sketches and drawings of the shape of the music before I write it and then always do a painting or illustration on the scores when I complete them.”
Lindberg’s own Mandrake in the Corner – one of his earliest works – is next in the programme. Based on Lee Falk’s comic strip Mandrake the Magician, which featured the world’s first comic book super-hero, it’s an exhilarating piece which will allow Lindberg’s virtuosic playing to shine as brightly as ever. Rhythmically dramatic and with much humour, it takes the listener on a perilous, consistently entertaining journey through Mandrake’s adventures among the criminal underworld.
Keeping the energy high, Lindberg will then perform Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, penned in 1880 as a thank you note to The University of Breslau, who had just given the composer an honorary doctorate. Brahms described the work as a “very boisterous potpourri of student drinking songs à la Suppé” and, as you might expect, it’s a fun-loving piece full of mischief, particularly in Brahms’ treatment of popular student drinking songs, while its gentle overture sparkles with some of his finest orchestral writing.
Finally it’s A Tribute to Jussi Björling by Anders Högstedt, who also arranged the Verdi and Brahms works in this programme. The work (which you can listen to above) featured on Lindberg’s acclaimed 2011 album, A Lindberg Extravaganza, billed as “a potent antidote to the stuffiness that still passes for seriousness at many a concert”. Drawing on operetta, opera and song – including Millöcker, Leoncavallo and Nordqvist – it’s a characterful, charming work full of the glamour, fun and high drama that came with Björling’s life as one the leading operatic singers of the 20th century.
It’s a brilliant programme from the globe-trotting trombonist, whose contribution to his instrument and its place on the classical map would be hard to overstate.