Duo concertante

by Magnus Lindberg

Empty sheet

Magnus Lindberg

Duo concertante

Chester Music


In 1990 my friends Kari Kriikku and Anssi Karttunen asked a dozen of Finnish composers to write a piece for clarinet and violoncello. Anssi had played me a fantastic recording of an arrangement of Pulcinella by Strawinsky for violin and cello. These instruments were capable of reproducing a quite astonishing version of the ballet despite of the rather limited resources. The imagined presence of the orchestra interpreted by two musicians created, like the top of an iceberg, a strange and wonderful tension.

I decided to make the basic concept of the piece based on a harmonic layout, a rather paradoxical starting point for writing a duo for clarinet and cello. I composed huge chordal successions out of which the music followed meanderlike paths alternating between many layers constantly. I imagine the feeling for the musician to be much like playing multiple chess turns simultaneously.

Duo concertante is a continuation of the same processes, except that more of the iceberg is now visible. The most important path is outlined by the soloists, whereas the ensemble articulates deeper levels in the musical material. The instrumentation of the piece can be viewed as an extension of the duo idea; flute-oboe, mandolin-guitar, vibraphone-harp, viola-double bass in addition to the soloists.

Style is an aspect of musical writing I have been focusing a lot of intention to during the last years. Duo concertante includes odd scherzo characters, puristic serial music, spectral music affects, even minimalistic approaches are recognizable. Pluralism 'an sich' is not necessarily very interesting, for me it has been more a question of a kaleidoscopic writing based on a maximal variety brought out from a rather limited musical material.

© Magnus Lindberg

(Chester Music Ltd.)

Duo concertante is a second version of Steamboat Bill Jr. In the new piece, the clarinet and cello are accompanied by a small ensemble, whose instrumentation is determined by that of the Nieuw Ensemble of Amsterdam. The concept of Steamboat Bill Jr. included a dimension of harmonic thinking which remained below the surface when it was performed by only two instruments. In Duo concertante much of the iceberg is audible, with the ensemble articulating the deeper aspects of the musical material. The ensemble, made up of eight musicians, reinforces the idea of a duet formed by family: flute and oboe, mandolin and guitar, vibraphone and harp, viola and double bass.

Written in Helsinki during the winter of 1992 following a commission from the German radio station WDR in Cologne, Duo concertante was first performed by the Nieuw Ensemble at the end of April 1992, at the Witten chamber music festival in Germany.

© Risto Nieminen, 1993

translated by © Nick Le Quesne

© Ircam - Centre Georges-Pompidou, 1993

(From Magnus Lindberg, Helsinki 1996)

Duo concertante est une deuxième version de Steamboat Bill Jr. Dans la nouvelle pièce, la clarinette et le violoncelle sont accompagnés par un petit ensemble, dont l'instrumentation est dictée par celle du Nieuw Ensemble d'Amsterdam. Le concept de Steamboat Bill Jr. était doté d'une pensée harmonique, que la réalisation avec seulement deux instruments avait laissée sous-jacente. Dans Duo concertante, une grande partie de l'iceberg est audible, l'ensemble articulant des aspects plus profonds du matériau musical. L'ensemble, composé de huit musiciens, accrédite l'idée d'un duo se formant par famille : flûte et hautbois, mandoline et guitare, vibraphone et harpe, alto et contrebasse.

Ecrite d'après une commande de la chaîne de radio allemande WDR à Cologne, pendant l'hiver 1992 à Helsinki, Duo concertante fut créée à la fin d'avril 1992 au Festival de musique de chambre de Witten par le Nieuw Ensemble.

© Risto Nieminen, 1993

© Ircam - Centre Georges-Pompidou, 1993

(From Magnus Lindberg, Ircam 1993)


fl, ob+ehn, mand, guit, vibr, hp, vla, cb, cl solo, vlc solo


Works for Soloist(s) and Orchestra


Kari Kriikku, clarinet, Anssi Karttunen, cello, Nieuw Ensemble, cond. Jurjen Hempel, Witten, April 25, 1992. See also: the original version for clarinet and cello, Steamboat Bill Jr.

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Germany.

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