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Magnus Lindberg

Publisher: Chester Music

Arena (1995)
commissioned by the First International Sibelius Conductors' Competition, where excerpts were premiered on 15/5/1995
Chester Music Ltd
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
15 Minutes
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Programme Note
Magnus Lindberg Arena (1995)
Arena was commissioned by the first International Sibelius Conductors Competition (1995) and was premiered on 30 June 1995 at Porvoo (Finland) by the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo. In 1996 Magnus Lindberg made a revised version for sixteen instruments from the original score for symphony orchestra - baptised, Arena II. The duration is 16'.

Commissioned by the first Sibelius Conductor's Competition held in Helsinki in May 1995, as an obligatory piece to be rehearsed by all the competitors, Arena was performed in its totality at the annual Avanti! Chamber Orchestra's festival in Porvoo (Finland). Thematic thinking has never been a main feature in Lindberg's music, but here horizontal lines (one would not yet dare to call them melodies) gain some independence , for example in ornamental figures and in the intense cello solo around the middle of the piece. Another new element - which was already used to some extent at the warmly hovering ending of Aura - is the almost romantic sound world and the suspension of the harmonies in the final climax, which can make one think of Mahler and Berg, or Lindberg's grand predecessor and compatriot, Sibelius.

Arena reveals some clearly new material after a period of two years during which all Lindberg's pieces were dominated by the world of Aura. Lindberg has talked about Beethoven-like formal thinking, referring to a passage where the sense of movement seems to accelerate to an extreme so that finally one perceives only a motionless surface, Arena was written for a competition, but it is not just a work to catch out conductors; it is clearly an independent piece of music, and certainly Lindberg's most important work since Aura.

  • 12 JUL 2016
    Aspen, CO
    Aspen Music Festival
  • 31 JAN 2016
    Tonhalle Düsseldorf, Germany
    Düsseldorfer Symphoniker
    Baldur Brönnimann, conductor
  • 31 MAY 2012
    Atlanta Symphony Hall, Atlanta, U.S.A
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
    Robert Spano, conductor

    Other Dates:
    1,2 June - Atlanta Symphony Hall, Atlanta, U.S.A
  • 14 SEP 2011
    Helsinki, FINLAND
    Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
    John Storgårds, conductor

    Other Dates:
    15 September - Helsinki, FINLAND
  • 03 JUN 2010
    Berlin, Germany
    Konzerthausorchester Berlin
    Eliahu Inbal, conductor

    Other Dates:
    4,5 June - Berlin, Germany
  • 10 JUN 2009
    New York, NY
    New York Philharmonic
    Alan Gilbert, conductor

    Other Dates:
    11-15 June - New York, NY
  • 23 MAY 2009
    Petronas, Malaysia
    Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra
    Hannu Lintu, conductor

    Other Dates:
    24 May - Petronas, Malaysia
  • 08 NOV 2008
    Nordic Focus 2008
    Casa da Musica, Porto, Portugal
    Orquestra National do Porto
    Hannu Lintu, conductor
  • 05 OCT 2008
    Venice, Italy
    Orchestra Teatra La Fenice
    Eliahu Inbal, conductor
  • 14 AUG 2008
    Concert Hall, Turku, Finland
    Turku Philharmonic Orchestra
    Eva Ollikainen, conductor
  • 09 MAY 2008
    Rotterdam, Holland
    Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
  • 01 MAR 2008
    Vienna, Austria
    NDR Symphony Orchestra
    Alan Gilbert, conductor
  • 22 FEB 2008
    Fokus Finnland
    Lubeck, Germany
    NDR Symphony Orchestra
    Alan Gilbert, conductor

    Other Dates:
    25 February - Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
    24 February - Hamburg, Germany
    27 February - Ljubljana, Slovakia
    28,29 February - Prague, Czech Republic
  • 23 MAR 2007
    Frankfurt, Germany
    RSO Frankfurt
    Hannu Lintu, conductor
  • 23 MAR 2007
    Frankfurt, Germany
    RSO Frankfurt
    Hannu Lintu, conductor
  • 24 MAY 2006
    Bergen International Festival
    Grieg Hall, Bergen
    Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
  • 21 OCT 2005
    The Music Hall, Aberdeen
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Robert Spano, conductor
  • 26 APR 2004
    Radiohusets Koncertsal, Copenhagen
    Dannish Royal Symphony Orchestra
    John Storgårds, conductor
  • 21 APR 2001
    NUMUS Festival
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
    Stephen Barlow, conductor
  • 19 MAR 2001
    Sigyn Hall, Turku, Finland
    Turku Conservaoire
  • 14 MAR 2001
    Conservatory, Arhus, Denmark
    Turku Conservaoire
  • 13 MAR 2001
    High School for Music, Gothenburg, Sweden
    Turku Conservaoire
  • 11 MAR 2001
    Royal High School for Music, Stockholm
    Turku Conservaoire
  • 09 MAR 2001
    Sigyn Hall, Turku, Finland
    Turku Conservaoire
  • 09 MAR 2001
    Sigyn Hall, Turku, Finland
    Turku Conservaoire

I also liked Magnus Lindberg’s dazzling orchestral essay Arena… Lindberg is ubiquitous in new music programming at the moment, and this piece has already surfaced in a reduced chamber version… But the teeming density of the textures (each string section divisi a four) makes larger forces preferable, so long as they don’t diffuse the music’s energy; and this performance was ideal, exhilarating, buoyant, proving Lindberg’s gift for pleasing crowds with grand gestures as well as torturing orchestras with minute complexities.
Michael White, Independent on Sunday,01/07/1996
One seriously begins to wonder if he is not the most gifted composer of his generation. For, after Joy or Kinetics (for medium-sized ensemble), Arena, for large orchestra, is even more dazzling: chiselled writing with irresistible life and impetuosity, absolute mastery of form and duration. This great admirer of Beethoven, Mahler and Sibelius seems more and more to take on a certain sonic opulence, a taste for dynamic effectiveness. Just cause for celebration.
Jacques-Emmanuel Fousnaquer, Le Monde,01/02/1996
"The highlight of the festival [Présences '96] has been without doubt Arena (1994-95) for large orchestra, which once more confirms [Lindberg] as the best composer of his generation"
Patrick Szersnovicz, Le Monde de la Musique,01/01/1996
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