I'm still getting familiar with these two works so maybe I'm being a bit hasty in reviewing them. I've been collecting a fair number of Lindberg's works on cd over the passed year or so and his works have been a revelation to me. He is clearly one of the great composers of our time, particularly in his work for orchestra.
The attraction of this coupling is that it allowed a comparison of his early work with the mature and richly harmonised works for orchestra. One might have expected to come away having enjoyed the more conventional Piano Concerto most. It follows Ravel's orchestration of his own G Major Concerto and is built on similar time dimensions. It is indeed an exquisite piece that sets the pattern of his later concertos. It is less tonally centred than more recent works like the Violin Concerto and Concerto for Orchestra but is similarly lacking in dissonant harmonies.
Kraft ("Power", to use its English meaning) is almost completely different. I say almost because for all the noise and collage of found objects mixed with the orchestra this isn't a simple young man's head banging exercise. On first hearing it seemed familiarly in an avant garde musical language that seems to have died a death. It recalled early Stockhausen and Penderecki.
Like all his "mature" works it appears to follow a certain inevitable logic - like an invisible guiding hand. Other reviewers have suggested that the violence in the score is an intended mockery - a pastiche but given Lindberg's own comments I don't believe that. He said that his enjoyment of punk music and night club scene influenced him as well as a love of extremes. He further said that loud and powerful doesn't necessarily mean violent; comparing the quiet crushing of a snail under foot with the more noisy work of building and construction. He continues to profess his love of extremes in music but again, that's hard to believe when his music so successfully absorbs the lessons of western classical music going back many generations.
Another aspect of the work that anticipates his "mature" works is his mastery of the orchestra. For all the use of found objects his talent for orchestration and harmony, often poetically so, shines through. Having come to enjoy so much of his "mature" work I find Kraft a refreshing change. Sometimes his music can sound just a little too comfortable with itself. Lindberg writes so much music for orchestra and little, if anything, for voice. I hope he turns his attentions to choral music sometime because his rich, multi layered compositions would suit choral writing. I remember playing Thomas Tallis' Spem in Alium immediately after a Lindberg orchestral work (Cantigas) and being struck how well they sat together.
Anyway, that's just my view and I don't suppose that Magnus Lindberg spends much time reading these reviews. Having gone on a tangent it just remains for me to recommend this recording very highly again; with the usual superb sound engineering from Ondine and top class performances by Salonen, orchestra and Lindberg as the soloist in his concerto. The two works make a good contrast with each other. I've enjoyed this recording very much. Any Lindberg collection that doesn't include Kraft is very incomplete.