Mp3 Blog #27: “Joy”


Magnus Lindberg:
”Joy” (1989-90)
For large ensemble and electronics

Performed by the Ensemble Intercontemporain conducted by Peter Eöstvös

Available on this compact disc featuring four works by Magnus Lindberg

* * * * *

Ah, the joy of chromatic chords being subsumed by harmonic spectra through the addition of virtual fundamentals to the former. Ah, the joy of overlapped ostinati and other rhythmic processes that, after twenty-some hearings, I still can’t discern. Ah, the joy of an electronic part that uses samples of detuned piano strings being clipped off. Ah, the joy I take in the irony that I post this piece after my confessional letter to the piano.

I’m an unabashed fan of the Magnus Lindberg works written through “Joy” that I know. Although he studied in Paris with Gérard Grisey in the late 70’s, Magnus Lindberg’s music has a cacophonous harsh relentless energy not typically found in works by the other Post-Spectral composers of his generation like Philippe Hurel, Marc-André Dalbavie, and Kaija Saariaho.

Compared to some of Magnus Lindberg’s earlier works like “Ur” and “Kraft,” “Joy” was Lindberg’s most ‘tonal’ work to date – so much so that after composing it he joked that this was as far as he would go in towards tonality for if his music became any more tonal he might as well be writing for Hollywood. Strangely enough, from what I’ve heard of Lindberg’s largely expanding orchestral oeuvre since “Joy” (e.g. “Aura,” “Engines,” the Cello Concerto, “Fresco,” “Cantigas,” “Parada,” “Feria,” and “Arena”), besides making a lot of money, he seems to have done exactly what he says he wouldn’t do. With exception of “Corrente,” I can’t say I particularly like the directions Lindberg has been taking with large ensemble writing.

All that aside, what a raucous joy it is to hear “Joy” and all its glorious digitally modified string clippings/tw-aannnng-g-g–gg–g—–g–g—g-ggs.

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