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Magnus Lindberg’s new concerto was premiered in May by pianist Yefim Bronfman and the New York Philharmonic conducted by Alan Gilbert.

After a 20-year interval, Magnus Lindberg has returned to the genre of the piano concerto with his new work for Yefim Bronfman, premiered in New York in May. The concerto was the last major commission under Lindberg’s three-year residency with the New York Philharmonic and, following the premiere conducted by Alan Gilbert, the orchestra toured the work to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Financial Times described how “the celebrated Finnish composer shared his kudos with the virtuoso pianist Yefim Bronfman” whose “knuckle-busting solos [were] played with boundless energy… the audience responded with instant cheers”. The New York Times likewise hailed Bronfman’s “brilliant and triumphant performance. He mastered every challenge: thick chords that leap across the keyboard; spiralling bursts of runs and sputtering arpeggios; cascades of double thirds; finger-twisting counterpoint…”

With a full symphony orchestra at Lindberg’s disposal, Piano Concerto No.2 is a larger-boned work than the composer’s first concerto, and though French models are still apparent, the new score also embraces the more muscular worlds of Bartók, Prokofieff, and even Rachmaninoff, to suit Bronfman’s wide-ranging repertoire skills. Lindberg has commented that “if the first concerto looks to Ravel’s G major concerto, the second is closer to his left hand concerto. I also wanted it to survey my own pianistic experience, from Kraft in the mid-’80s through Related Rocks to the present.”

“It took all of [Bronfman’s] technique and stamina to dispatch this monster concerto, a surging, mercurial 32-minute work in three contrasting sections that unfold continuously. The concerto opens with slowly emerging lines and chords in the low register of the piano and deep, quietly ominous stirrings in the orchestra. Inexorably the strands coalesce into tense, swelling sustained orchestra harmonies and restless bursts of chords and quasi-crazed figures in the piano…. for all the shifts in language and style, the concerto comes across as organic and inevitable.”
New York Times

"...fascinating orchestra textures and glorious piano writing that assumes Bronfman to be an octopus entangled in all 88 notes of the keyboard all the time. The piano barely survived but the wow factor was considerable.”
Los Angeles  Times

Next season brings the first performances of Lindberg’s new commission for the Royal Concertgebouw, celebrating the 125th anniversary both of orchestra and hall. The world premiere in Amsterdam is scheduled for 17 January conducted by David Robertson, followed by the UK premiere by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under John Storgards at the Barbican on 9 March.

>  Further information on Work: Piano Concerto No.2

Photo: Hanya Chlala/ArenaPAL

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