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Magnus Lindberg: Chorale (after J.S. Bach, "Es ist genug") - Canadian premiere

Magnus Lindberg

Magnus Lindberg was born in Helsinki, Finland on June 27, 1958. He composed Chorale in 2002. The work runs approximately 6 minutes in performance, and is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, and orchestral strings.

Magnus Lindberg’s Chorale is a kind of musical meditation on the chorale “Es ist genug”, which closes Bach’s cantata O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort (“O Eternity, Thou Word of Thunder”). For this chorale, lasting barely a minute, Bach in his turn harmonized a preexisting hymn, published in 1662 by J. R. Ahle.

Bach’s church cantatas are, in effect, miniature musical sermons; in O Ewigkeit, the sermon takes the form of a dramatic dialogue between Furcht (fear) and Hoffnung (hope). After a decisive contribution from the Voice of Christ, the concluding chorale offers a glimpse of comfort and resolution: “lt is enough; Lord, when it pleases You, unshackle me. My Jesus comes; now, farewell, world. I journey in peace to Heaven’s house, leaving my woes behind. It is enough.”

Lindberg says, “I took the harmonic structure of the chorale, and embedded it in my own harmonies. At some points we find ourselves a long way from the original, at other we are close to it, and sometimes I allow it to come to the surface. I make an analogy with the rise and fall of the tide. When the tide is in, the sea-bed is
invisible; but when the tide goes out, you see the rock formation on the sea-bed.

“For Lindberg, this short piece has potentially far-reaching implications: “Sometimes you force things in certain directions; on other occasions you feel that the material has forced you. I have always considered my music as non-melodic, in the sense that melody arose out of the harmonies, which I never thought of as having a tonal quality. In Chorale, I have my harmonies, but suddenly there is a melody on top. For me, that opens up a new dimension.”

Programme Note by Kevin Bazzana

© Copyright 2014 Toronto Symphony Orchestra


 

 

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