Soloist Warms Audience in Symphony Concert Print
Music - Feature Stories
Tuesday, 05 March 2002 18:00
One name saved a frozen evening. Christian Lindberg. On what was the most treacherous weather night the Quad Cities had seen in a while, Lindberg – Sweden’s famous solo artist and rare solo trombonist – dazzled the sparse Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) audience with flashy clothes, incredible playing, and rarely performed but easily accessible trombone concertos.

Lindberg, the world’s most famous trombonist, stopped in the Quad Cities en route to a date with the equally famous Chicago Symphony. Accomplished as a performer, conductor, and composer, he seized a depressed, snow-worn concert crowd and made it beam on the inside and out.

On paper, the concert appeared to be a potential disaster for the symphony faithful. After all, who had ever heard of a trombone soloist? Add to the mix a handful of less-renowned composers and a sometimes forgotten Beethoven symphony, and you could have had the recipe for a cranky audience. Yet everything worked right for Saturday’s performance. The chosen works meshed well and offered a new musical experience for the audience.

The concert got off to a great start when Lindberg strode onto the stage in a flashy shirt and leather pants. Trombone in hand, he plunged into the rollicking Trombone Concerto of Ferdinand David. Considered the “classical” trombone concerto, Lindberg breezed effortlessly through the connected three-movement concerto, and though his tuning seemed a little off at times, he demonstrated why he is the most successful trombone soloist in the world.

Then, with Alfven’s Midsommervaka rhapsody and Lindberg’s own Mandrake in the Corner, the audience got to experience a full range of Swedish music.

In Alfven’s Swedish Rhapsody No. 1, the music alternates between grand pastoral melodies and folk tunes; fittingly, the piece is a portrait of a Swedish party. The entire orchestra was on the same page during Midsommervaka. Effortlessly, it moved from the distinct folk passages to pastoral interludes without so much as a hiccup in the different melodies and harmony.

The audience was also bombarded with the frenetic trombone concerto Mandrake in the Corner. The piece follows a traditional fast-slow-fast structure, complete with daunting cadenza, but – as was pointed out – the music resembles a movie score. It had the same fiery tempo and forward direction of the Barber Piano Concerto. The work brought the crowd immediately to its feet when the furious flurry of tromboning was complete. Through his own composition, Lindberg revealed the true range and capabilities of the trombone.

These two pieces had more than their Swedish roots in common. They also featured some of the best playing by the QCSO, and without question the best soloist all season long.

After the intermission, the QCSO returned for an average performance of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony. Sandwiched between two giants of the classical repertoire, “the Eroica” and the Fifth Symphony, and not as groundbreaking, the Fourth Symphony is sometimes neglected. The QCSO’s performance demonstrated that while the symphony is not revelatory, it is accessible.

Without question, March’s QCSO concert was among the best all season long. From top to bottom, it was a fine synthesis of piece selection, performance, and solo ability. The music was accessible and even uplifting given the dire, snowy weather outside the Adler Theatre. It was a true treat for the brave souls in attendance.