Magnus Lindberg completed Corrente, for a mixed ensemble of 16 instruments, in January 1991. Later that year, faced with a commission for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the young Finnish composer returned to this score. To say that Corrente II was "rescored" for symphony orchestra would be to undervalue the process of adaptation. In fact, the composer expanded the work's duration by approximately one-third, adding new material, expanding particular passages, changing others, etc. The element of orchestration was likened by the composer, in comparison to the original version, to viewing an object from afar instead of up close. Certain elements of outline become clearer, while other elements of detail, say, become less distinct.
The dramatic character of the music is decidedly amplified by the weightier instrumentation. The dark hues of the opening, for example, are intensified by the addition of some rumbling figures and added percussion that were not present at all in the chamber version. This passage is substantially expanded in the new score. The other passages that serve to extend the score are found scattered throughout the piece, and generally serve to add points of repose or reflection to the otherwise rhythmically driving music. The quotation of a fragment from Purcell appears a few more times than it did in the original, and the minor-mode flavor of that harmonic progression casts a greater influence over the piece.
With regard to orchestration, the brass, in particular, are much more prominent in the orchestral version, adding not only bulk, but sheen and dramatic thrust. The exciting ostinati, going in and out of phase with different versions of themselves or with other layers, are still present, and often retain the same lightness of tone from the chamber score. At other times, though, they are smoothed out, with sustained doublings in the strings or brass serving to anchor the passages. It is through such doublings, in which key tones or intervals are sustained, that the harmonic character of the music comes through more strongly than in the chamber version.
Corrente II presents formidable challenges to a symphony orchestra, with its intricate arabesques and flurries. The vitality of its energy, however, together with the presence of relatively accessible, traditional-sounding structural signposts, makes it an attractive piece for musicians and audience alike.