1999 Mandrake in the Corner for Trombone and Wind Band

2000 Mandrake in the Corner for Two Trombones and Wind Band

2002 Behac Munroh for Trumpet Trombone and Wind Band

2003 Concerto for Winds and Percussion

2007 Brainrubbish for Wind Orchestra

2016 Chickabone Checkout – Wind Orchestra version

ROBOT GARDENS by Christian Lindberg

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Christian Lindberg

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Friday 4th March 2015

20 minutes Published by Tarrodi

On the 4th March, 2016, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra premiered a new work for wind, brass and percussion, conducted by the composer, commissioned to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Orchestra.

The concert was broadcast by the BBC, and in his introduction Lindberg spoke of childhood memories of nature and how this is reconciled with urban lifestyle. He said I took for granted the idea of a garden with raspberries, strawberries, flowers, and I wanted to remember something specifically when travelling in urban cities like Tokyo where they build these huge gardens on the roofs so it’s a very strange world; when I started to compose I had a specific idea of not using the strings because with the wind you can make a robot atmosphere – when the strings come in that’s much more mellow and smooth with a lot more vibrato, so that becomes a little more complicated.

His own philosophy regarding his work as a composer is simple: I do not write in any style whatsoever! I just listen to what my brain and my soul tell me, and what I hear I simply put down on paper. To say anything more about my work would be pretentious nonsense. I try to avoid being part of a style – my role models were Xennakos, Berio and Takemitsu, but then came a generation who imitated these models, but you have to use your ears. My ears were exposed to the Beatles when I was six years old and later Frank Zappa was very influential on me, Led Zeppelin, then came Miles Davis and Coltrane, and of course the traditional classical music, everything is there in my head, my mixture will be something special

That I started to compose at all, at the age of 39, was first and foremost thanks to the composer Jan Sandström. He was asked to write a piece for trombone and strings but he rang me up and said You have given the first performances of more than 60 trombone concertos. Isn’t it time for you to write one yourself. He gave me some sort of advice: Think of yourself as a five-year old doing a drawing. He does not worry about whether it is good or not. He just does it because he wants to. So his drawings are always unique. With this in mind I started composing again.

Described by the Guardian music critic as a curious ode to urban horticulture the review goes on to quote Lindberg as explaining that the six-segment work fuses reminiscences of his childhood garden in Sweden with the more restricted green spaces of the international city-dweller. The opening section, entitled Rectangular Roses, challenges you to detect anything specifically roseate or rectangular, though the imperial brass chords bring to mind the conclusion of Turandot. Stranger still, the swelling andante, Oval Orchids, seems to contain the seed of Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem, which is certainly green and pleasant, if not the most obvious nostalgic image of Sweden.

There is a refreshing naivety about Lindberg’s style, the music lurches from huge passages of intense activity, perhaps with virtuosic scale passages for either woodwind or for brass, set against consecutive fifths like some mediaeval organum, jazzy breaks for solo brass emerge, vicious jabbing syncopations subside into lyrical fragments of woodwind. Wind, brass and percussion are all treated with an energy and abounding imagination which is totally captivating. Chord sequences which seem to come from the 19th century rather than the 21st take unexpected, the quiet reflective moments are simply beautiful, the loud rhythmic moments carry you forward with their sheer momentum; he certainly has a unique style of composing, and it led me back to my commission of the Concerto for Wind and Brass of the WASBE Conference in 2003.