Christian Lindberg...the best thing that's ever happened to the trombone.
Andrew McGregor 2002
"Oh my", you're thinking, "a cd of 20th century music for solo trombone and orchestra?! McGregor's lost it (again); what on earth makes him think this is of any interest to most record buyers?"
Fair point...but it's Christian Lindberg, see, the best thing that's ever happened to the trombone. The man can actually fill concert halls for his solo recitals all over the world, and if you don't think that's astonishing, just ask yourself if any other trombonist alive could do it; in fact just ask yourself if you can think of the name of another solo trombonist. Yes, he's that good. And that means not only does Lindberg make marvellous sounds with his 'bone, but sometimes people write him marvellous music for it as well.
I'm not sure I'd include his own piece on the disc though, the title track Mandrake in the Corner. I'm not sure I'd have put it first on the cd either; while there's nothing actually objectionable about it, there's nothing particularly memorable, and I don't need to hear it again. The Danish composer Axel Jorgensen's Suite from 1926 has some lovely, long melodic phrases that give Lindberg plenty of time to win us over with his lustrous tone, and it's hard not to warm to its romantic charms. Egil Hovland's Concerto from the early 70's is a technical tour de force, with humour and a Bernstein-ian jauntiness to the finale...but it's the last work on the cd that left me grinning all over my face.
Jan Sandström's name might be familiar; Lindberg fans know him as the man behind that notorious Motorbike Concerto, and this is another brilliant and colourful showpiece for Lindberg. Cantos de la Mancha takes the form of five scenes from the life of Don Quixote, and the trombonist has to sing, stamp, laugh and shout his way through the score, as well as playing some of the slickest trombone parts I've heard in a while. It's an astonishing display, colourful, humorous, brash, beautiful, and even at times genuinely moving. Lindberg's a lucky man having a vehicle like this in his garage. "The trombone slide shall be your lance and with it you will fight windmills" the composer told him. This time he wins.