My tweet right after the concert on Thursday: “Magnus Lindberg’s Kraft: some very beautiful passages + intriguing spatial effects amidst a joyously chaotic maelstrom of sound.”

It’s a fascinating piece and a gutsy one for the New York Philharmonic to present. I do question the wisdom of programming it alongside Joshua Bell playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto. It threw some of the more conservative ticket-holders a curveball, as they had no idea (unless they’re checked out the promo videos on YouTube) what the Lindberg had in store for them.

There were far more than the “handful” of walkouts Anthony Tommasini noted in his otherwise superlative review in the New York Times. From where we were sitting in the Third Tier of Fisher Hall, we had a birds-eye view of a steady exodus of disgruntled patrons: perhaps 10-15%.

On Friday, I talked about the walkout phenomena with my analytical studies class. One issue we discussed was the notion that many orchestras seem to have of “one audience” vs. the possible lifesaving way forward of cultivating “many audiences.” The former notion seems pretty entrenched at the Phil. I’m glad to see that Alan Gilbert and some of the folks in the press office are exploring ways to curate and cultivate multiple kinds of music-making at the NYPO and leverage social media to find new audience sources. Last year, Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre was a terrific example of that.

But Thursday’s concert seemed to me to be a holdover of the former way of thinking. Get people to come to hear Joshua Bell, and then have the conductor give a lecture explaining why they should like a loud piece with oxygen tanks and multiple gongs in the midst of the audience. I don’t entirely blame the folks who stormed out for being upset, although I do wish they’d taken the hint and left after the concerto if they weren’t up for an adventure.

Still, for those who stayed, it was quite an adventure. Here’s Lindberg discussing the piece.

How often does a promo video (and indeed, program booklet) from the NY Philharmonic namecheck experimental industrial postpunk collective Einstürzende Neubauten? This is perhaps the first time! But one can really see the connections between the group’s aesthetic and Magnus Lindberg’s Kraft in the videos below: check out their percussion setup!

There’s one more performance of Kraft on Tuesday. If you’re in New York, I heartily recommend checking it out!

8 thoughts on “Magnus Lindberg on Kraft + Einstürzende Neubauten”
  1. It seems like a bit of a programming mistake. Why put Joshua Bell up against a noise percussion piece? Why not make it an all modern program featuring perhaps Verese’s Ionization, or ever Reich’s Drumming, or a more bombastic symphonic piece?

    While I too would hope that people would listen to Bell, then stay for the Lindberg piece, it may be asking too much of some of the patrons. What retired couple on a night out would want to sit next to an array of ‘junk percussion’ after hearing the melodic strains of Sibelius?

    As a percussionist/composer myself, I’d rather my music be programmed in a better match.

  2. Well, now I’m wishing I was in NYC. I really don’t understand walking out of a concert. Walking quickly away from a painting in a gallery is one thing because the viewer can perceive the whole work in an instant. But this is not so with music. It strikes me as immature (I’m not sure that’s the right word) to judge a piece of music w/o hearing the entire thing. Can anyone imagine judging the David statue by just a toenail? (I must admit though that I’m not familiar with Lindberg’s work and it does sound as if this piece may have the potential to be quite loud, it is called Kraft after all. If the decibel level was simply beyond physical comfort for some, I suppose that’s a mitigating factor.)

    Christian, I particularly like your brief point about having multiple audiences. This does seem like a lifesaving way forward. I look forward to discussing it more on this site and mine.


    Grant Charles Chaput

  3. Okay, I lied about the elephant. All I got is footage of an elephant batting balls with a cricket bat. And it sort of makes me sad 🙁

    If I get to pet the elephant at the premiere I’ll post a link to a photo.

  4. @Chris: It’s hard to restrain one’s enthusiasm for Einstürzende Neubauten. Three videos can hardly capture what they offer to us all.

    But I’m very sad you didn’t include the video of the trained elephant. Perhaps you should edit your post and embed footage forthwith.

  5. Three Neubauten videos? Would two serve the same purpose? Or one?

    Christian man, come on – don’t hog all the space on Sequenza’s homepage! I could have posted YouTube video of the trained elephant in Viswa’s upcoming production but I held back 🙂

  6. Einstürzende Neubauten is going to be playing in SF in December- i bet they’ll be in nyc too…definitely worth it! Makes you wonder what Lindberg would have done had symphonies not existed!

  7. although I do wish they’d taken the hint and left after the concerto if they weren’t up for an adventure.

    The frau bought tickets to the Friday concert. After seeing Lindberg’s “Arena” last season, I didn’t need the hint. I was relieved when I saw this work was being performed after the intermission, so that we could leave before being subjected to it. The seats in the orchestra are painful enough (I’m 195 cm tall) and Lindberg’s work is well, not my cup of tea.

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