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Lawrence Power is viola soloist in Magnus Lindberg’s new ‘Mozart’-sized concerto, receiving its premiere in Helsinki on 28 February with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Collon.

Following multiple concertos for violin and cello, Magnus Lindberg has turned his attention to the middle sibling of the string family. His new concerto for British violist Lawrence Power is premiered at the Helsinki Music Centre on 28 February with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under its Chief Conductor Nicholas Collon. The new 25-minute Viola Concerto, composed in 2023-24, was commissioned by YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Corporation), the Karolina Blåberg Stiftung and the St. Louis Symphony, which will present the work’s US premiere in a future season.

Magnus Lindberg describes how “after having written two cello concertos (1999 and 2013) and two violin concertos (2006 and 2015), I thought for many years about composing a Viola Concerto. The instrument has played an important role in classical music, defining to a large extent the mid-register textures of different characters from ‘allegro’, ‘andante’, ‘adagio’, ‘presto’ etc., but it has enjoyed less prominence as a solo instrument. Yet the instrument is enormously rich, thanks to its different expressive modes, possessing a huge variety of possibilities… It was high time I took a closer look at what the viola has to offer the contemporary composer – or to put it another way, what the contemporary composer has to give to this fine instrument.”

“I wanted to write a big concerto for the instrument, but decided to use a classical orchestra with double wind instruments and strings only. In this work, even the timpani doesn’t become part of the sound palette. Nor is there any other percussion, harps or keyboard instruments. In this way the concerto follows the line of my Violin Concerto No.1 which I scored for a ‘Mozart’-sized orchestra. The piece is divided into three movements which are played without pauses in between, thus sharing all the material. I work with a large number of different characters, all identified by different harmonies, tempi and textures, drawing parallels with the course of my Piano Concerto No.3.

“The concerto is dedicated to Lawrence Power. He is a musician I truly admire. I am immensely grateful to the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra with whom I've been working for more than 40 years and to Karolina Blåberg for having made this project a reality.”

> Read the composer’s full programme note
> Visit the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra website

The week before the Viola Concerto premiere in Helsinki brings a tour of Lindberg’s other Mozart-sized concerto, his Violin Concerto No.1, in Scotland. Soloist is the composer’s compatriot Pekka Kuusisto, joined by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Maxim Emelyanychev at concerts in St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow (21-23 February).

Two major orchestral works by Magnus Lindberg have been published for the first time by Boosey & Hawkes in full score format. Sculpture was composed in 2005 and dedicated to Frank Gehry, architect of the then new Walt Disney Concert Hall, where the premiere was conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen at the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Seht die Sonne was premiered in 2007 by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic and toured to Carnegie Hall in New York. The title refers to the sunrise that provides the glorious ending to Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, and Lindberg’s work explores the musical soundworld of that time, as high Romanticism pivoted towards the modern era.
> Sculpture  Full score (978-1-78454-616-8)
> Seht die Sonne  Full score (978-1-78454-615-1)

>  Further information on Work: Viola Concerto

Photo: Philip Gatward

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