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Magnus Lindberg

Publisher: Chester Music

Corrente II (1992)
commissioned by the BBC
Chester Music Ltd
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
18 Minutes

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Programme Note
Magnus Lindberg Corrente II (1992)
After having written a Piano Concerto in 1991 preceded by three works for different orchestral effectives (Kinetics, Marea and Joy) I felt that I had come to an end with a certain musical expression and also compositional technique. All these works were based upon an extended chaconne principle with chord chains cycling around, undergoing constant transformation and being articulated in a very gestural way. The musical paradox and evidently also the challenge was the discrepancy between a brick-like method expressed in a world of gestures (with all difficulties involved in conceiving music out of phrases) aiming at a continuity in terms of progression and development.

After the Piano Concerto in the autumn of 1991 I strongly felt that I couldn't continue in that direction anymore. I started to work on a project called Corrente for 16 players, as a study for the full orchestra version entitled Corrente II.

In order to bring the harmonic and rhythmic world closer to each other I abandoned the chaconne principle and based the harmony on different scale aggregates. By combining these scales and by filtering or by enhancing them with additional pitches based on more acoustically oriented views of the scales by considering them as partials of virtual fundamentals I was able to work in a rich harmonic world without actually having to do harmonic transformations and progressions. The rhythmic material was based on pattern figures with a rather kaleidoscopic approach of repetition and variation. By combining these pattern figures and scales aggregates I wanted to give the musical expression a "narrative" sense of streams and directions moving around in different orchestral constellations.

Corrente II for symphony orchestra is based on the same material as the piece for chamber orchestra. As the timbral palette and the mass qualities expanded, the dramaturgy of the piece also changed. Corrente lasts for about 12 minutes whereas Corrente II spans over 20 minutes.

Basically the original flow of Corrente is still present in the final version of this project. One could think of a landscape, viewed from different distances, approaching it and thus discovering new details or by moving apart from it and seeing it as part of a larger context.

Orchestrally the piece is written for a standard formation with, except for timpani and vibraphone hardly any percussions. One particularity was to leave out the flutes from the orchestra. I don't have anything against the flutes, on the contrary, but by doing so the outline of the sound body became enforced as the top of the wind group was scored by either oboes or clarinets. Consequently I didn't include the tuba in the brass section, thus giving the bass trombone a stronger emphasis also marking this enforcement of the frames.

  • Ensemble
    Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Jukka-Pekka Saraste
“…Corrente II…another brilliant essay, brilliantly scored, from a major and original composer of our time.”
Stephen Pettitt, The Times,11/10/1994
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