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Duo for violin and cello
Double Bass Concerto No. 1
Tour de force
Ich denke Dein...
Shimmering Blue - Flute Concerto No. 1
Orchestral Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson
CD recording BIS
Tour de force
CD recording BIS
CD recording BIS
Ich denke Dein...
CD recording BIS
CD recording, BIS
A. S. in Memoriam
CD recording, BIS
Garden of Devotion
Garden of Devotion
2017-11-04 Hong Kong
Double Bass Concerto No. 1
Ich denke Dein...
Ich denke Dein...
Bridge - Trumpet Concerto No. 1
2018-02-01 Polish Radio Live Broadcasting
Bridge - Trumpet Concerto No. 1
2018-02-15 Palma de Mallorca
Ich denke Dein...
Ich denke Dein...
Ich denke Dein...
Garden of Devotion
CD recording, Challenge Classics
To the Shadow of Reality
CD recording, Challenge Classics
CD recording, Challenge Classics
A. S. in Memoriam
CD recording, Challenge Classics
Scenic/dramatic work - MSO co-commission
Scenic/dramatic work - MSO co-commission
Scenic/dramatic work - MSO co-commission
A concert opener - HSO co-commission. World premiere 2017-05-18 with the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Stefan Solyom at Helsingborg concert hall.
A. S. in Memoriam was written in 1999, in memory of Arnold Schönberg and his string composition Verklärte Nacht, composed a hundred years previously, in 1899. In A. S. in Memoriam I have sought to mirror the vocabulary, gesture and musical characters present in the works of Schönberg. A. S. in Memoriam is often performed and has been on tour to Japan with both Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic/Alan Gilbert.
A. S. in Memoriam was originally composed for 15 strings (5-4-3-2-1, op50a) but also exists in a version for string orchestra (op50b). The smaller version was commissioned and premiered in 1999 by the Lund New Chamber Orchestra under Sören Nilzén. The larger version is dedicated to Neeme Järvi, by whom it was premiered in May 2001 with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra at the Gothenburg Concert Hall. Bar 49 features a musical quotation from Verklärte Nacht, as a sounding acknowledgement of that work's influence on A. S. in Memoriam.
When I got the exciting suggestion from Martin Fröst to orchestrate Schumann's Folk Songs, I already knew Martin from the amazing collaboration in my clarinet concerto Concert Fantastique. A great pleasure to be in collaboration with him again of course and a big challenge to step into Schumann's world by transforming his chamber music into orchestral colours and thanks to Martin's initiated comments to my work I'm very happy with it!
During the orchestration process of the Schumann folk songs I was very careful not to use instrumental effects and techniques outside the stylistic framework and, as with all concertos, I payed a lot attention to the dynamic balance, register and transparency in general not to cover the soloist. I also had to adapt the different lines in the piano accompaniment into the orchestral score very carefully so that fast passages, pedal chords and important melodic lines got their optimal instrument for best technical and idiomatic solutions. As the solo clarinet is playing most of the time in the clarinet/piano version I sometimes put the main theme in flutes or first violins instead for variation reasons.
Bridge was premiered in Göteborg April 29, 1999, by Håkan Hardenberger/trumpet, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Neeme Järvi/conductor. After the premiere Mr Järvi immediately decided to perform the piece the following week on a tour with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra to England. The performance took place in Birmingham Concert Hall. One year later Järvi performed Bridge four times together with Hardenberger and Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Bridge has been performed and broadcasted numerous of times both in Europe and in USA. The piece was selected to be played at the Nordic Music Days 2000 in Helsinki, Finland by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and in 2002 Bridge was selected for ASCAP Awards in USA. Bridge has been on tour several times. In 2001 Hardenberger, Malmö Symphony Orchestra and B. Tommy Andersson performed Bridge on tour to Scotland and during spring 2003 Bridge was on tour to Germany for 13 performances with Hardenberger, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Leif Segerstam. The tour ended with a successful performance in Philharmonie in Berlin.
Bridge is devided into three larger parts which are held together with two solo trumpet cadenzas, one lyric and one dramatic. The first part is held in a moderato tempo, the second moves very slowly and the third part is written in presto. During the first two minutes, the soloist challenges all the instrumental groups in the orchestra one by one and after this section the piece starts to grow in larger musical forms. The composer says: "Håkan Hardenberger's remarkable trumpet sound and musicality has been a great inspiration to me during my work with Bridge." The solopart contains a musical cipher from Håkan Hardenberger's name.
Bridge is recorded at BIS (CD-1208) with Hardenberger, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Neeme Järvi and the piece was commissioned by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra with economic assistance from the Rikskonserter (Swedish Concert Institute). Published by Gehrmans Musikförlag.
When, one day in October 2003, Mats Lidström phoned out of the blue to ask if I'd write a Cello Concerto, I wondered if someone was playing a trick on me. But it wasn't a joke and the sincere invitation became the starting-point of our co-operation. Mats's spontaneity, wonderful sense of humour, brilliant musical intuition, his feeling for the cello's emotional range, his astonishing playing and his never-ending energy and flow of ideas, has from the very first moment inspired me immensely to write this concerto. Our many discussions about the instrument, that have been enormously informative for me, have been intensely coloured by questions about the cello's dynamic range, character and technical possibilities and limitations, but also by a mutual curiosity for testing various alternatives and solutions. All this has made it possible for me to really work thoroughly with the cello part as well as the orchestral part. On one occasion during our correspondence, I e-mailed a computer file with my music to Mats. Ten minutes later he called from London and shouted: "Listen to this...!" and he played the music of the solo part right off the computer screen! An hour later he called again and asked me to change the fingering in one bar of the solo part. When Mats called that day in October 2003 he also said that it would be nice if the cello concerto could be called just Cello Concerto without any extra name given to it. So it was, and the cello is allowed to sound like a cello.
The lyrical and expressive characters of the solo part alternate throughout the piece, giving it a slightly improvised and unpredictable form. The singing quality plays a central part but it is emphasised by strongly dramatic sections as well as rapid lighter ones. There is for me a special, personal side to writing for the cello, since the instrument is played daily at home in the hands of my 14-year-old daughter, Louise. This may be one of the reasons why the music sometimes has an explicitly emotional and naive language.
Cello Concerto No. 1 was commissioned by From-Sweden.com in co-operation with The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Malmö Symphony Orchestra. World Premiere: Mats Lidström/The BBC Symphony Orchestra/Mario Venzago, London 20 April 2005. Swedish Premiere: Mats Lidström/Malmö Symphony Orchestra/Christoph König, Malmö 2 June 2005. Recorded at Daphne Records (DAPHNE 1029) and published by Gehrmans Musikförlag.
Martinsson had a very productive year in 2005, when two solo concertos and a short orchestral piece first saw the light of day. Cello Concerto No. 1, written for Mats Lidström, was premiered in the spring. Jointly commissioned by the BBC and Malmö Symphony Orchestras, it was written on the initiative of Mats Lidström and the "From-Sweden.com" festival. In this, as in the flute concerto, the solo part evolved in close partnership with the performer it was being written for. In this way the musicians can feel that they have been able, through their musical personalities, to influence the composition process. Martinsson himself gives the following description of how Cello Concerto No. 1 originated: "One day in October 2003 the phone rang, I picked up the receiver, said my name and heard a voice saying: 'Hi, my name's Mats Lidström and I'm a cellist living in London. I've heard your trumpet concerto and I'd like to commission a cello concerto from you to be premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra here in London in spring 2005. Do you think you'd have time?' 'Mmm ...ye-e-e-es,' I said, wondering the while who was pulling my leg. But it was a serious enquiry and that was the beginning of our partnership." (...) "Mats' spontaneity, his wonderful sense of humour, marvellous musical intuition, his feeling for the full expressive range of the cello, his entrancing playing and his unfailing energy and flow of ideas inspired me from the word Go in the writing of this cello concerto."
In the concerto Martinsson highlights the instrument's wealth of expressive potentialities, from romantic cantilenas to virtuoso frenzy. Together with Violin Concerto No. 1, written in 2007, it is one of the solo concertos by Martinsson entitled "concerto" pure and simple. This is not to imply and lack of poetical or narrative character - on the contrary! Could it be, rather, that because this work contains so many possible associations, a descriptive title would be too much of a constraint on the listener's own imagination? It is written in one movement, comprising several parts pulled together by common motifs. The concerto opens with a slowly emerging grand crescendo from the full orchestra from which the cello breaks free in an initial prolonged cadenza. By this time several of the main ingredients have already been introduced. A further central motif is presented by the cello when the orchestra re-enters. From this motif there emerges a long, sustained arch leading to the first great culmination. This is followed by several contrasting sections, some dramatic - notice, for example, the savage outbursts from the timpanist! - and others lyrical. These eventually lead into a fast, rhythmically impetuous helter-skelter.
Flames was written in 2003 for woodwind quartet. Later, to further enrich the sound picture, a part was added for oboe d'amore or alternatively cor anglais. The composer calls this new version Coloured Flames. In the present recording, Bengt Rosengren plays the oboe d'amore. The "flames" in the title, the composer explains, allude to the expressive, sometimes ecstatic nature of the music. The work is written in four sections. The first movement opens with a flute solo, the other instruments joining in one by one, often with slight, descending melodic movements. Part 2 is lively and discordant, while the third movement is tranquil and chordal with certain sharp accents, some of them choral-like. The swift rhythms of the final movement resume and heighten the dramatic expression of part 2.
Coloured Flames is recorded at Daphne Records (DAPHNE 1019) by The Amadé Quintet and was premiered by them at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm in November 2004.
Concert Fantastique is my sixth solo concerto since the trumpet concerto Bridge (1998). Whenever I start working on a new concerto it is always a challenge not to repeat any form or idea, and instead to be continually searching for new paths and forms of expression. Looking back on my earlier concertos, I can find many similarities such as varied tempi, high and low points in dynamics, solo cadenzas, orchestral episodes and a tone language that fluctuates between tonality and atonality. But none of these musical components is an inherent guarantee for a good solo concerto or a work with a personal stamp. It is rather in the combination of these components, in their mutual consecutive order and relationships of tension that the unique and personal elements take shape. There are two additional and entirely decisive elements that help make Concert Fantastique unique on its own merits among my solo concertos: that the solo instrument is the clarinet and that the soloist is Martin Fröst. I have studied the clarinet and listened to clarinet concertos for a long time, but above all I have had a very creative dialogue with Martin. Our discussions, my note examples, his comments on my note examples, the impressions that all his CD recordings have made on me and the impressions that my earlier works have made on him, our understanding of one another as composer and soloist respectively, all that is there in the background and has in a decisive way influenced me to compose Concert Fantastique just as I have done.
My collaboration with Martin was intense and very inspiring during the whole period when the work was coming into being. At the outset we discussed all sorts of ideas for the concerto but in the end Martin said - Why not just write a fantastic concerto? Yes, of course, easier said than done, I thought; but I got started anyway. The title of the work alludes of course to our conversations, but is above all an homage to the fantastic musician and artist Martin Fröst.
At one of our get-togethers Martin suddenly started playing the clarinet with lightning rapidity, softly and flightily. This immediately made me think of how a humming bird flies around in the air, comes to a standstill and sucks nectar, and in the next second hastens on to a new flower. I have inserted such a section just after the solo cadenza at the end, but before the final fast passages, and given this part the name Humming Bird.
The structure of the concerto is divided into five distinct sections. The introductory part, which is mobile and starts out very resolutely, is followed by a short orchestral episode that thematically foreshadows the extensive, slow, lyrical part of the work. In the second section the soloist plays only one tone, but the longer for that, without taking a breath. The technique for executing this is circular breathing, and in this case the soloist is required to hold the same tone for more than a minute without a break. The third section is the work's lyrical peak. A long, beautiful melodic sequence gradually creates more tension in the harmonies and then changes into an exotic part, full of contrasts, which later returns to the theme of the melodic sequence. The fourth section is a dizzy solo cadenza that leads into the fifth and final section in a brisk and whirling tempo.
Concert Fantastique was given its premiere performance by Martin Fröst and the Malmö Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Shi-Yeon Sung on 14 October 2010 at the Malmö Concert Hall. The work was a joint commission by The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Stockholm and The Norwegian Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra in Tromsö, Norway. The last three orchestras will perform the work with Fröst as soloist during the 2011/2012 season.
I have mainly concentrated on writing in such a way that the double bass is not drowned out by the orchestra, which is perhaps the greatest challenge, apart from the artistic aspect, when it comes to composing a double bass concerto. This has involved focusing to a large extent on dynamic balance, details of instrumentation, types of texture, and especially on form and elements of form. An obvious formal element is the solo cadenza. There are a number of different sections in the concerto where the bass plays all alone. In another part there is a duet with a solo viola and in still other parts the bass plays high above a muted string orchestra. I have also utilised a technique that is similar to a concerto grosso/concertino form in which a small ensemble accompanies the soloist alternately with tutti sections where the soloist doesn't play. Finally, I have also composed substantial orchestral sections in order to create a balance in the overall form. With this as a basis, my goal has been to create varied music in the different sections, music that takes advantage of both the lovely melodies in the high register of the double bass and the slightly rougher passages in the middle and bass registers. The solo part is spiced with pizzicato, flageolets, double-stopping, etc, in various places in the work. On request from Edicson Ruiz, I've created a high tuned version (G-c-f-bb) of the solo part which got its premiere in Caracas with Ruiz and the Orquesta de la Juventud Venezolana Simon Bolivar in October 2012.
Double Bass Concerto No. 1 was commissioned by the Oslo PO, premiered in Oslo concert hall by Dan Styffe, Oslo PO and Jukka-Pekka Saraste on 7 April 2011 and recorded at SIMAX classics, kindly supported by Sparebankstiftelsen DnB NOR/Dextra Musica. Published by Gehrmans Musikförlag.
Akira Kurosawa's film Dreams made a hugely powerful impression on me when I saw it in a Malmö cinema at the beginning of the 1990s. I went back the very same evening to see it a second time and later I bought my own copy in a video store. The film includes a succession of concentrated dream scenes which create imaginative, clearly contrasting rooms. The play of images and colour and the tempo and drama from a complex whole replete with musical associations. A year or so later, on receiving an orchestral commission from the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, I didn't hesitate to use this film experience as an inspiring starting point of both form and plot. At no time did I intend writing film music. Rather I wanted, in my own particular way, to reflect and interpret my experience of seeing the film. This was greatly facilitated by having a full symphony orchestra, complete with percussion, celesta and two harps, at the disposal of my imagination and instrumentation.
Dreams was premiered by the MSO under Hannu Lintu at the Malmö Concert Hall in August 1995.
Article by Tore Ericsson 1995-08-24 /from Malmö Symphony Orchestra concert programme
(English translation by Tryggve Emond)
Dreams and "The Art of Painting in Tones"
Article by Björn Tryggve Johansson /Nutida Musik No 4, October 1995
(English translation by Tryggve Emond)
The title refers to the famous Fairlight synthesizer which I used for improvisations in 1989 when writing for the Swedish Radio Theatre. Some of these musical ideas and improvisations I didn't use at the time, but still had in my mind when starting to compose Fairlight in 2003. The piece is created in close cooperation with Christian Lindberg. Our inspiring discussions about mutes, how to use the voice when playing, quality of lowest and highest register, form, tone colour and glissandos were enormously exciting and gave me a lot of creative ideas. During the composition process I had many opportunities to hear Christian play from different sections of the solo part which gave me detailed information about the trombone sound and good ideas about how to finish the piece. Fairlight, including a music quotation from David's trombone concerto, is devided into nine major parts: Opening section - Tranquillo - Energico - Choral - Furioso - Euterpe - Cadenza 1 - Cadenza II - Caccia.
In October Fairlight got The Swedish Music Publishers Award 2005: "The Most Significant Contemporary Music Work of the Year"
Fairlight is commissioned by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and was premiered in Stockholm Concert Hall 7 April 2005, by Christian Lindberg and The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Alan Gilbert. Published by Gehrmans Musikförlag.
Garden of Chimes was composed in 1992, commissioned by the Swedish Concert Institute. Rolf Martinsson wishes to bring out light timbres, and this has influenced his choice of instruments. Unusually, he also approached the poet Rabindranath Tagore in this order; he was looking for texts that matched the instrumentation instead of the other way round. He has said that he "finds the idea of a garden of sounds very beautiful", and the title is in fact a reference to Tagore.
Rolf Martinsson likens his method of working to improvisation, which allows opportunities for spontaneous ideas. However, where the formal construction is concerned his ambition has been to adhere to the structure of the texts as closely as possible. Like the text, the work is in a vaguely ternary form.
The first section - if one accepts this division into three parts - consists of three excerpts. The first excerpt ends "You are my own, my very own, Guest in my endless dreams" while the second excerpt ends with "...lonely dreams" and the third with "...eternal dreams", which Martinsson embellishes with melismas. This first part is an homage, a declaration of love, while the excerpt which has been given pride of place in the work portrays the ego: "My heart, the bird of the wild, has found its freedom in your eyes". Like the introductory text, the two verses of the final section are written in the first person, tinged, however with a feeling of transience and uncertainty: "I am afraid of losing you, while I sleep. Do not leave, my beloved, without first asking my permission!"
The choice of instruments - soprano (+ triangle), piccolo, cor anglais, celesta (+ glass wind chimes) vibraphone (+ crotales, glockenspiel and Chinese temple blocks), tam-tam and cello - is an indication of how the music sounds: light and delicate. But besides this, the instrumentation is also sparse and airy, which emphasises the transparent character of the music. The celesta functions as a central focus and provides a chordal backbone to the music. In the soprano part the strophes are often linked with passages of vocalises, and many of the soprano's entries are shadowed by one of the instruments: a phrase on the glockenspiel, an upbeat on the vibraphone or a rhythm that sweeps past in the cello.
The third section of the work differs somewhat from the rest of the music through its generally faster tempo, its even semiquavers and brighter atmosphere. However it ends with a soft landing which leads into a ritardando played softly. A short forte fortissimo note marks the last exclamation and the music finally dies down to the lingering sound of the crotales cymbal.
Garden of Chimes was premiered by an ensemble from Musik i Syd in September 1992, Kristianstad/Sweden.
Garden of Chimes is published by Edition Suecia.
When Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson in 2013 decided to choose poems by the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore for a song cycle for soprano and string orchestra, he revived an interest he had in his younger years. In 1988 he set five of Tagores lyrics to music for soprano and piano. He then used three of these poems and supplied them with two new poems under the title "Garden of Devotion". All chosen from Tagore's famous collection called The Gardener.
Rolf Martinsson emphasizes that 'the music from 1988 is of early 'Martinsson modernism' date and the new composed music in "Garden of Devotion" is a central part of my mature language as a composer today, and therefore completely different.' The drive to set up this song cycle came from a collaboration with the Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson. The artistic click between them, when they met in 2010, lead at first to the re-arranging of the earlier song cycle "Orchestral Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson" for mezzo-soprano. Martinsson: 'Together we adapted the vocal part into the high version. Her dedicated collaboration gave me not only inspiration and self confidence, but also a lot of understanding for the voice and singing in itself.'
Not only with his many volumes of verses, but also with novels, essays and plays, Tagore (1861 - 1941) attracted the attention of the western literary world around 1900. It lead to the highest acknowledgement when the Sweden based Nobel Academy awarded him with the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913. The same year he published a volume of verses titled The Gardener, written in his native Bengali language. In 1915 followed a setting in English by himself. It got immediately translated into many languages.(Next paragraph can be deleted in concert notes)
During his tours through Europe in the years after World War I, Tagore gave lectures on the topic of a new human society based on love and understanding between people. He aimed at a harmonic relationship between western and eastern philosophies, religions and cultures. Consequently he opposed to the British colonial rule of India, joining the non-violent movement for freedom. His performances impressed both intellectuals and artists, among them composers as Alexander von Zemlinsky and Leos Janacek who set his poems to music.
Tagore, member of an upper-class family in Calcutta, showed already in his teens a remarkable talent for language. He had great interest in the traditional Hindu literature. Although he took over the refined and symbolic style of writing, he developed a new art language closer to the daily Bengali language. The Gardener contains 85 poems, written over a longer period. They were built up in free verses and are of different lengths. Sometimes they are in dialogue form as can be seen in the first song of Martinssons composition.(Next paragraph can be deleted in concert notes)
The title The Gardener points to the first text of Tagores poems in which a servant, in the most courtly way, offers to his queen to be her gardener. But the whole series of verses is not a consequently worked out story of this theme. The book gives a loose connection of poems about love and life either seen from the perspective of a man or a woman. But philosophical reflections and advice on social matters of daily life can also be found.
The five songs in Martinssons "Garden of Devotion" form a short story about neglected love. The composer used the texts in a different order than in Tagores book to achieve a dramatic scene. The five verses are fine examples of the elegant and refined expression of feelings. They are embedded in images of nature: birds, flowers, silent nights and stars. Martinsson says: 'Tagore uses beautiful single words as inspiring and mind expanding metaphors which give me a universe of musical possibilities.' In his music he creates an atmosphere of pent-up tension to colour the passionate emotions that lead a devoted woman to her friend in the garden of love.
Writing for string orchestra, Martinsson takes full advantage of the effects that strings can produce. The outbursting motif of descending chords in the introduction of the first song, later on repeated, gives the thrill of passion in the dialogue. Soft and dark tone-colours describe the gloomy development in the second poem. The quivering strings, opening the last song, introduce the cynical conclusion to the love drama. For the vocal line Martinsson developed an embellished and subtle kind of singing that suites the courtly expression of the words.(If necessary the last paragraph can be deleted in concert notes)
'The love between you and me is simple as a song', wrote Tagore in one of his love poems. Martinsson makes them audible and gives new life to an almost forgotten literature. As Tagore concluded in his 85th poem: 'Who are you reader, reading my poems a hundred years hence? From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of a hundred years before'. In this case the composer is the perfect gardener.
The soprano and string orchestra work Garden of Devotion is composed 2014 on poems by the Indian poet and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore. The poems are about unrequited love. A woman asks the man she loves to devote himself fully to his love and not to keep the secret of his heart to himself. She gets no answers and is afraid to lose him and says: "Do not go, my love, without asking my leave". Then she swears her love to him with the words: "My heart, the bird of the wilderness, has found its sky in your eyes". When she fail to win his heart she eventually becomes angry with him and says: "Lest I should know you too easily, you play with me. I know your art".
The lyrics are from Tagore's collection of poems The Gardener, written in both Bengali and English as original languages by the poet himself. The order of the poems in the work does not however conform with the order of the collection of poems. The composer writes: "The work was composed 2014 in close collaboration with the Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson, during which I learned a lot about the voice with regard to singing qualities, possibilities and nuances, melisms and syllables, registers for different vocals, dynamic balance and the relation between tempo and lyrics.
It has been extremely inspiring to collaborate with such a brilliant singer and devoted musician as Lisa Larsson, to whom the work is dedicated. She premiered Garden of Devotion with the main commissioner Musica Vitae in September 2014 and since then many orchestras have programmed the work with Larsson as soloist, among others the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Staatskapelle Weimar as well as several Nordic orchestras. In November 2016 Ms. Larsson gave two stunning performances of the piece at Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra/Gordan Nikolič, both sold out concerts with standing ovations. Following the successful Dutch premiere Ms. Larsson has accepted to record the piece with the NCO/Nikolič at the Challenge Classics label, followed by an international tour with Garden of Devotion on the programme.
This golden glow thematically informs Rolf Martinsson's soprano saxophone concerto Golden Harmony, which was composed in the summer of 2012 for the Norrland Opera Symphony Orchestra and Dalasinfoniettan. The name is meant to evoke more a sense of beautiful equilibrium, gilded surfaces and inner sonority than mathematical concepts like the Golden Proportion. Martinsson is sceptical of control systems in his composition, but realises that fixed models for melody, rhythm, and harmony can create guarantees for something static, when staticness is called for. He describes "a luxurious alloy of sound from the piccolo, damped strings, muted trumpets, muted horn and vibraphone with strings", and claims Ravel, Lutoslawski and Stravinsky as his musical paragons.
Golden Harmony is recorded at Phono Suecia (PSCD 188) by Anders Paulsson, NorrlandsOperan Symphony Orchestra and Christoph Altstaedt.
The song cycle for soprano and orchestra 'Ich denke Dein…. originated in 2014 from a co-commission of five European orchestras (Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Philharmonia Orchestra Royal Festival Hall London, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra) to the Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson. A milestone in his worklist for it concerns his hundredth composition. Closely connected to this opus 100 is the voice and the person of the Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson. In 2010 started an intensive cooperation with her when Martinsson rewrote his song cycle for mezzo-soprano, Orchestral Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson, to the soprano position of Larsson, who is specially praised for her Mozart opera repertoire. In Lisa Larsson the composer found his muse. In 2014 the cooperation lead to a new cycle, Garden of Devotion, on text of the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. The newest work 'Ich denke Dein…' contains a choice out of the German poetry: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Joseph von Eichendorff and Rainer Maria Rilke. Their joint theme is love.
The first song, Nähe des Geliebten (Touch of the beloved) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832) from 1796 consists of four times four rhyming lines. Every section begins with the word 'Ich' (I) followed by a confession: I think of you; I see you; I hear you; I am with you. These outpourings are repeated several times with passion by the soprano. The lover sees himself in a meeting amidst images of nature, as sunshine reflecting on the sea, or murmuring of water. He ends with a sigh: 'Oh, if only you were there!'. The orchestra rounds the song similar to the second song. Nähe des Geliebten begins with a strong emotional orchestral introduction that inserts a longingly melodic theme that immediately charms the ear. It is a recognition tune that returns in the end of this song, as well as in a short solo for the violin in the fourth song Die Liebende schreibt (The lover writes) and in an interlude for the fifth song Mondnacht (Moon night).
The two following poems are of Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926): Liebes-Lied (Love song) from 1907 and Blaue Hortensie (Blue hydrangea) from 1906. During the period of creation Rilke lived in Paris where he served as secretary for the sculpture Auguste Rodin. He taught his co-operator to observe things like a plant, an animal or an object, to see what is essential, and to combine it with his own feelings in a new image. These texts by Rilke are known as 'thing poems'.
Liebes-Lied is written in the first person singular. That person wonders how he can lift his soul over his sweetheart 'zu andern Dingen' (towards other things). He realizes that it will be not successful. He and the beloved lady are caught in the stroke of a bow, which out of two strings, jointly stricken, let sound of one voice. The poem ends with a sigh: 'On what instrument have we been bend? And which player holds us in his hand? O sweet song'. Can a composer wish a more musical text? In the throat of Larsson the sweet song merges to one sound by the two trifling voice muscles.
The third song, Blaue Hortensie (Blue hydrangea) has the classical concept of a sonnet (two times four verse lines followed by two times three lines) with a specific rhyme scheme. It offers a yet stronger example of the 'thing poem'. The flower buds that have grown sallow and the withered leaves of a hydrangea are compared to the dried paint in a tin, to old paper, and to a faded children's apron. Yet the blue suddenly lights up; the soprano voice evokes a radiating effect. The word love is not used in this painting of words, but the tension of the images strongly expresses that feeling and the hope for renewal. Martinsson gives sound to the contemplative text in a restrained way. The first five words are not sung, but spoken. Then the voice starts singing, slowly underlined by the English horn. Also the last verse is declaimed, with a heartfelt accent on the word 'freuen' (rejoice).
Totally different, almost one in meaning, are the lyrics that Martinsson choose from the poem stock of Goethe: Die Liebende schreibt (The lover writes), the fourth song in the cycle, and Nähe des Geliebten, the first song. The first mentioned poem stems from 1807 when the 58 year old famous author fell in love with the 18 year young Minna Herzlieb, a bookshop-assistant. The poem has the classical form of a sonnet. A kiss, spinning thoughts, tears and the lisp of heartache have to soften the adored girl to give 'ein Zeichen' (a sign). With an orchestral opening that has much to do with big band music, and thanks to a pliant pulse of timpani and double bass, the verses by Goethe become a modern love song.
The fifth song, Mondnacht (Moon night) is by Joseph von Eichendorff (1788 - 1857). It is a romantic effusion, in three times four rhyming lines, based on impressions of nature. The heaven that kisses the earth, ears of corn softly rocked by the wind, and in the end the soul spreads its wings and seems to fly home. A tender sounding bassoon colours the introduction. The song line expresses, in an ensemble with the solo cello, the stillness of nature by night. The poem dates from 1837, and it was Robert Schumann who immediately composed it and made it famous.
'Ich denke Dein…' grew in close cooperation with Lisa Larsson and the songs are dedicated to her. The conversations with her focused on things as the balance between syllables and ornamental series of notes (the so called melisma) in connection to the representation of the text. To do justice to the contents, Martinsson took much care to the dynamic differences and the colouring. The beautiful poems are already full of music, according to Martinsson. For each poem he searched a suiting musical form of the song line and in combination therewith he developed the orchestration. Celesta, vibraphone, harp and piano bring in light accents in the well-stuffed orchestra.
During 2017 Ms. Larsson will be recording the piece at the BIS label with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra in the wonderful acoustic of Malmö Live.
Into Eternity is written in close collaboration with brilliant soprano Lisa Larsson and dedicated to her. The discussions between the composer and soloist about Swedish poetess Karin Boye's poems, the secrets of the voice, range, colour and ornamental details have created an exciting performance including light and stage instructions for a unique public experience.
The piece has two parts: part one with orchestra only and part two with soprano and orchestra. The first part ends with a string chord followed by a solo cello heralding the entrance of the soprano on stage when singing a beautiful vocalise, a theme that appears both in the middle of the second part as in the final bars of the piece. The solo cello appears now and then in the second part in beautiful duos with the soprano, musical moments when time stands still.
The ten opening minutes are a "tour de force" for full orchestra, showing Martinsson's skilful and colourful orchestration, using harps, celesta, percussion, triple woodwinds, full brass and strings. The music is open in style, semitonal, romantic and melodic with lush harmonies. The melodic themes in the opening part anticipate the vocal themes in the second part, broad and strong in the orchestral version but most colourful, rich in details in the vocal version and with a deep expression that brings Boye's poems to life. At the end the soloist disappears the same way she came...out of stage...into eternity!
Into Eternity is a concert opener and Lisa Larsson gave the world premiere in August 2015 at the inauguration of Malmö Live, the new concert hall in Malmö, Sweden. The premiere was broadcast live in Swedish Radio P2 and recorded by Swedish Television for broadcasting later on in autumn 2015. During 2017 Ms. Larsson will be recording the piece at the BIS label with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra in the wonderful acoustic of Malmö Live.
The Muses - goddesses of song - were all daughters of Zeus, born at the foot of Mount Olympus. They are nine in number, and in Kalliope I have given each one a movement of her own, making their contrasting characters my imaginary starting point in a process of improvisatory composition. The movements are divided into groups of three, for maximum variation and contrast of tempi and characters throughout the composition. Each of the nine Muses presides over a particular genre of the arts. Calliope (intrada), the foremost of the nine and mother of several of Apollo's children, presides over epic poetry and science. Urania is the muse of astronomy, Terpsichore the muse of choral poetry and dance, Euterpe of flute-playing, Polyhymnia of dance, sacred poetry and mime, Melpomene ("the Songstress") of singing and tragedy, Clio of epic poetry, rhetoric and history, Erato of love poetry or hymnology, and Thalia ("the Flourishing") of comedy and dramatic art.
This composition was commissioned by Jan Stigmer and the Kristiansand Chamber Orchestra, by whom it was premiered in March 2004 at Music House, Kristiansand, Norway.
Rolf Martinsson's Libra, (The Scales), is the fourth piece in a series of twelve piano works composed after the twelve signs of the zodiac. "The tone B (H), as in Hans, is a natural starting point for the piece," writes the composer.
Libra balances between two temperaments: one lively, active and mastery; the other a repeating part of contrasting polyrhythmic expressionism."
Libra was premiered by Hans Pålsson in October 1996, Malmöhus Museum, Malmö/Sweden.
Monogram is a composition for solo tuba and woodwind quintet. The musical form has its idea from the old suite form, but I have mixed several movements into a larger form. There are no interruptions between the movements. The music moves attacca. For every separate movement, the music is based upon its old original time signature, form, tempo and character.
The form as follows:
Preludium (tuba cadenza), Allemande, Courante, Sarabande 1, Musette, Rigaudon, Menuett, Sarabande 2, Cadenza (tuba cadenza) and Gigue.
Open Mind is an introductory piece, an overture for orchestra. The title refers to the fact that the work is meant to be a short opening piece in a concert programme but also to an openness in the composers free choice of expression with an open mind to musical ideas, gestures and stiles, and with a strong wish to communicate. Harmonic structures, melodic lines and ideas of a colourful instrumentation are fundamental to the composing of Open Mind. A nine tone scale forms the musical basis of the piece but is still contrasting with form parts that are more freely treated with regard to musical material.
The work is commissioned by Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (SRSO). World première 10 August 2005, SRSO/Manfred Honeck, Estonia Concert Hall, Tallin/Estland and Swedish première 15 August 2005, SRSO/Manfred Honeck, Berwaldhallen, Stockholm/Sweden. Recorded at Daphne Records (DAPHNE 1029) and published by Gehrmans Musikförlag.
During 2005 Rolf Martinsson received a commission from the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra for the Baltic Sea Festival. The result, Open Mind, is a concentrated, attractive ten minute composition which makes a first striking item for a concert programme - in every way a modern concert overture. The title, according to Martinsson, alludes "to an openness allowing the composer a free choice of expression with an open mind about musical ideas, gestures and styles and with a strong determination to communicate". Perhaps too, the piece demands the same "open-mindedness" on the part of the recipient, whether listener, musician or reviewer?
Open Mind was premiered by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, under Manfred Honeck, at the beginning of August 2005 in the Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn. Its Swedish premiere followed a fortnight later, on 15th August, at the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm.
Emily Dickinson's short, subtle and precise descriptions of brief moments fascinate me; the dawn that gradually covers the lawn with darkness, the carefree flight of the bumble bee in the summer breeze, the imperceptible change from summer to late summer or an intense meeting symbolized by the sparks of a cloven flint. The fact that the short poems often focus on one specific feeling or mood has inspired me to compose Orchestral Songs as a suite of short movements, one for each character.
The movements are divided into three larger parts: Songs of Love, Songs of Nature and Songs of Life. In spite of the large number of instruments I've used a transparent instrumentation, focusing on details rather than tutti sections. Vibraphone, celesta and glockenspiel have got prominent roles and I have used a broad instrumental palette of colours in order to reflect all the poetical tints and shades of the lyrics. The aphoristic poems have clearly set their marks on musical form and instrumentation.
I have tried to reflect the "music" of the poems, as I perceive it. My aim has been to uncover their inherent music rather than forcing on them a specific musical style. This intuitive approach to creating music has characterized my works for some years now. Orchestral Songs celebrate the lyric and intimate musical expression.
Orchestral Songs were premiered by Anne Sofie von Otter and the commissioner Malmö Symphony Orchestra, under Vassily Sinaisky, at the new concert hall in Copenhagen, on March 12, 2009 followed by the Swedish premiere at Malmö Concert Hall and the UK premiere at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.
In 2012 the brilliant Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson premiered the high version of the songs and has since then performed the piece many times both in Sweden and internationally with greatest success. The songs are dedicated to Ms. Larsson and her CD recording of the piece with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra will be released in 2018.
In 2008 when Rolf Martinsson started composing his "Orchestral Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson", he continued a line of works for voice and piano and for solo voice, chorus and instrumental ensemble. With "Orchestral Songs" he opened a new chapter in this line in the form of a song cycle, for solo voice and orchestra. After this opus followed in 2013 "Garden of Devotion" on poems by Rabindranath Tagore and in 2015 "Ich denke Dein…" on German romantic lyrics.
Choosing poems by Emily Dickinson is unusual since only fervent lovers of poetry know the work of this nineteenth century American poetess. Moreover, the content of her almost 1800 poems is highly concentrated in short verses, in series of comparison, and in very personal outpourings of love feelings.
'The fact that the short poems often focus on one specific feeling or mood, has inspired me to compose "Orchestral Songs" as a suite of short movements, one for each character. I'm fascinated by the way Dickinson describes the dawn that gradually covers the lawn with darkness or an intense meeting symbolized by the sparks of a cloven flint', says Rolf Martinsson pointing to the opening text of his song cycle. 'I had decided on forehand to select three or four poems for each subject: love, nature and life, for variation reasons and to reflect the beauty of love, nature and life, that often mirror each other.' Martinsson choose ten lyrics out of a final sorting of about fifty, which he found most colourful and with good words for singing, due to open vocals.
The person Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886) is somewhat more known because of her withdrawn, mysterious life as an unmarried woman in her parental home, and her habit to dress up in white gowns. But this eccentric side only emerged after 1865, probably caused by illnesses from attacks of epilepsy. In the years before, Emily felt comfortable in social life, with many male and female friends. She grew up in Amherst, a small rural city in Massachusetts. Her family was educated and well off; her father co-founded the educational institute of Amherst College, today highest ranked in the US.
Although she thought herself attractive as a fifteen-year-old girl and said she would be 'la belle' of Amherst within some years, she had no success in making a relation. In her twenties she began to increasingly exclude personal contacts. She started to write many poems full of thoughts about love and connections she dreamt of. Literary scholars have tried to reveal her ultimate love on the basis of allusions in her poems and in the letters that survived.
Unhappily for Dickinson readers of today, Emily's sister Vinnie burnt, on Emily's request, the whole stock of drafts and received letters. It was her wish that also her poems should be thrown into the fire after her death. Her sister decided otherwise when she found forty booklets, handmade by Emily, containing some eight hundred poems. It was the collection of a highly intense period of writing between 1859 and 1864.
Only some intimate friends knew about her literary activities that continued until she died. The discovery of so many caused a sensation. She had created in her self chosen solitude a huge world, full of observations about nature, connected to thoughts about life and death, with mysterious, religious contemplations, written in a compact idiom.
'Awake, ye muses nine, sing me a strain divine, unwind the solemn twine, and be my Valentine', runs one of her first poems written around 1850. Starting in classical verse forms, she developed very soon her own concept with short lines, no final rhyme, but rhyme within the verses, often no formal grouping of stanza's and seldom a title. Her poems are fresh in choice of words, seem to be sketches, are sometimes no more than an epigram as the last song shows in Martinsson's cycle.
With a roll on the kettle-drum and six radiating chords by the brass instruments Martinsson immediately creates in sound the image of an open sparkling fire, symbolizing the tense meeting of two people described in the first four lines of the opening song. On the seventh chord the soprano begins to sing in ecstasy: 'We met as sparks'. But in the second half of the song the music changes to an ethereal atmosphere, according to the last line.
Also in the second song Martinsson translates the sensitive mood in soft expression coloured by vibraphone and harp. 'In spite of the large number of instruments in the symphonic setting, I have used a transparent instrumentation, focusing on details rather than tutti sections. Vibraphone, celesta and glockenspiel have got prominent roles', explains the composer. The first song in the section 'Nature' beginning 'Nature is what we see' offers a fine example. The voice sings the lines generally in a calm recitation in accordance to the contemplative words, but there are also many moments of exuberant expression, as on the last word 'wings' of the last song, underlined by chords that echoes the beginning of the cycle.
"Orchestral Songs" was originally written for mezzo-soprano. When Rolf Martinsson heard the Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson, internationally known for her Mozart opera roles, he was so impressed by her clear and subtle voice, that he decided to rewrite the songs for soprano. 'I never before had rewritten a voice part to a pre-existing accompaniment', the composer tells. 'It was fantastic for me to get the opportunity to arrange the song part in close collaboration with Lisa Larsson. I learnt a lot about the possibilities of the voice that I used in two other song cycles that I have written for and dedicated to her, "Garden of Devotion" and "Ich denke Dein…". Emily Dickinson called the help of nine muses; Martinsson met a new muse in Lisa Larsson.
Reflections (Reflexer), Opus 15, is composed for and dedicated to Gunnar Spjuth. About his first work for the guitar Martinsson says: "Reflections mirrors contradictions. Atmospheres are reflected, mixed and renewed. Only the more intimate expressions, still live on - the piece is dissolved into a reverberation of its own, faintly, in a brittle manner still with relentlessness."
The introduction is a kind of modern Tiento. From the six open strings the music is rapidly built up into a concentrated drama around the contradictory sides of the guitar: the virile and aggressive side as against the dreamlike and meditative. The piece fades out into a poetical morendo in subtle flageolets and extremely high notes in pianissimo.
Reflexer was premiered by Gunnar Spjuth in February 1986, Malmö Academy of Music/Sweden.
Reflexer is recorded at dB Productions (dBCD69) by Gunnar Spjuth.
The piano work Scorpius can be interpreted as introvert, even contemplative music but at the same time it is designed to attract attention. The music also has stories to tell from the piano repertoire and can even joke about the mannerisms of national romanticism. In astrology, Scorpio, the sign of the scorpion, stands for a forceful temperament with sudden outbursts and abrupt changes and this has been one of the starting-points of the composition.
Scorpius resembles an improvisation that has been meticulously polished and put down on paper. The piece is one of twelve that Rolf Martinsson plans to write corresponding to the signs of the zodiac. His idea is to compose a suite of twelve character studies that can be combined freely by the pianist, either as a complete recital programme or for separate performance.
Scorpius was premiered by Marianne Jacobs in October 1987, Mexico City University/Mexico.
In autumn 2005 came the premiere performance of the flute concerto accorded the poetical sobriquet Shimmering Blue. In it Martinsson makes use, among other things, of an exciting development in instrumental technique, created by flautist Magnus Båge, which opens up the possibility of advanced glissando playing. In places one seems to be hearing an entirely new instrument. This new technique also gave rise to the title of the piece.
"...Shimmering Blue alludes partly to these solo glissandi on the flute, because the glissando playing is reminiscent of a kind of 'Blue Notes' occurring in jazz. But Shimmering Blue also refers to a shimmering timbre which is constantly changing throughout the piece, and which I have endeavoured to keep alive though constant variation and through meticulously detailed instrumentation", Martinsson writes in his own commentary on the piece.
This concerto too is in one movement. It uses a much smaller orchestra than the cello concerto, which makes it more like chamber music. It also evokes thoughts of a "Nordic tone", indefinable as that concept may be. The very commencement of the piece, with its open sounds, can put one in mind of naturalist tone poetry after the manner of Sibelius. And then when the flute appears, with its expressive sustained melody, is it not as though a latter-day Syrinx were seated against a Nordic sunrise? At about the midpoint of the piece the glissando technique is introduced on the solo flute against a background of string glissandi - an almost magical moment. This part spreads throughout the entire orchestra, culminating and opening out into a solo cadenza. The open sounds of the introduction then return, but this time embellished with fast-moving figurations. Last of all, just as in the cello concerto, comes a short, rapid, rhythmically insistent rush-finale - the shimmer of dawn bursting into full sunlight?
Shimmering Blue, jointly commissioned by the NorrlandsOperan and Värmlandsoperan Sinfonietta, was premiered in September 2005 at the Norrland Opera in Umeå by Magnus Båge, to whom it is dedicated. Recorded at Daphne Records (DAPHNE 1029) and published by Gehrmans Musikförlag.
String Moments is a commission from Musica Vitae composed for string orchestra (15 strings divided into groups of 5-4-3-2-1). The work was premiered by Musica Vitae in Växjö with a following tour during March 2000 under the baton of Jerzy Maksymiuk, founder of The Polish Chamber Orchestra. Since then, String Moments has been performed several times, for instance with Huaröd Chamber Orchestra led by Mats Rondin. The tonal world of String Moments is bordering on atonality. A stagnant middle part dominated by sound shades and specific playing methods, is surrounded by more flowing music with gestures from a more romantic tradition. The music wanders improvisingly between these two worlds representing a way of composing that appeals to me. Published by Gehrmans Musikförlag.
In 2010 I composed a solo concerto for Martin Fröst, Concert Fantastique - Clarinet Concerto. The work, commissioned by the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Norwegian Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra, was premiered by the Malmö SO in October 2010 and given its Stockholm premiere in October 2011. The Concerto is also scheduled to be performed on 24 November by the City of Birmingham SO.
For the concert in Wigmore Hall, Martin commissioned me to compose Suite Fantastique for clarinet and piano. The piece is inspired by Concert Fantastique and is divided into five parts:
For quite some time I have studied the clarinet and listened to clarinet concertos, but above all had a very creative dialogue with Martin. Our discussions, my note examples, his comments on these, the impression that all his CD recordings have made on me and that my earlier works have made on him, our mutual understanding of one another as composer and soloist, all this is there in the background and has in a decisive way influenced me to compose Concert Fantastique just as I have done.
My collaboration with Martin has been intense and most inspiring throughout the whole time that the work was in progress. In the beginning we discussed all sorts of ideas for the concerto, but at length Martin said, "Why not just write a fantastic concerto?" Of course, easier said than done, I thought; but I got started on it anyway. Obviously, the title of the work alludes to our conversation, but it is above all homage to the fantastic musician and artist Martin Fröst.
During one of our meetings Martin suddenly executed some extremely rapid, faint and fleeting tones on the clarinet which immediately made me think of how a hummingbird flutters around, stops still in midair to suck nectar, and then in the next second hurries on to another flower. I have inserted such a passage after the solo cadenza at the end, but before the fast final part, and christened the section Humming Bird.
The title Symbiosis refers to the relationship between the two violin parts. Instead of using opposite elements I have focused on balance and unity and the piece moves forward in mutual ambition. Symbiosis is divided into three sections without intermission. The first section combines motion with static parts. The second section explores the static character of the first and shows a colourful side of the instruments. The third section re-establishes the motion of the first one. It explodes in dynamic eruptions and expanding ambitus before it ends in silence and weakness where only sul ponticello and harmonics remain.
Written in 2003 for Duo Gelland, Symbiosis had its première in Halmstad, Sweden in 2004. Apart from other Swedish performances, Duo Gelland has performed Symbiosis in Vienna in May 2006. Symbiosis was commissioned by the Swedish Art Grants Committee. Recorded at Nosag Records (nosag CD 152) and published by Gehrmans Musikförlag.
During my work with Tics, I began to model each melodic line separatly from the others but into the global form of the piece, in order to shape the individual character of each instrument. Then I put the different parts together into the score and adapted each instrumental line to the musical entirety, with regard to the span from maximum contrast to strong unity. When the contrast intensifies the piece "boils over" into convulsions and "tics". The form of the piece brings the music from a long energetic introduction through a staccatissimo part into a gradually improvised Shakuhachi part. The piece ends in silent echoes with special instrumental effects as key slap (flute), behind the bridge (viola) and tapping (guitar). The piece is written to the Malmö ensemble HOT3.
Tics was premiered by HOT3 in June 1997, Waldemarsudde, Stockholm/Sweden.
Tics is recorded at Phono Suecia (PSCD 148) by HOT3.
The relation to a mutual tone and the play around it is a fundamental idea in To the Point. The two instruments are passing tones to each other. They are covering each others entries and initially acting as starters for one another. Non moving parts are followed by very quick tempos and the relation between the instruments is tightened through increasingly intense cromatic. The composition was made for a collaboration project between composers and musicians, financially supported by Konstnärsnämnden.
To the Point was premiered by Johannes Lörstad (violin) and Francisca Skoogh (piano) in October 1999, Nybrokajen 11, Stockholm/Sweden.
The long-standing successful collaboration with brilliant Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson also includes To the Shadow of Reality for soprano and string quartet. The piece is composed in five movements on beautiful poems by Swedish poetess Karin Boye. The poems Morning, How can I say, From a bad girl, You are my purest consolation and In motion, tell a love story with an unhappy ending. But after all, life must go on to experience the big future adventure life really is.
The piece was written in close collaboration with Ms. Larsson and dedicated to her. Her valuable ideas and comments on my sketches were crucial to how I finally fulfilled the piece. The world premiere with the Kreutzer Quartet at the Swedish venue Lyckå Chamber Music Festival 2013 was followed by the UK premiere the same year at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Duke's Hall, also with the Kreutzer Quartet. The following year Ms. Larsson gave the Dutch premiere with the Rubens Quartet at renowned Musis Sacrum in Arnhem.
Lisa Larsson will be featured artist on my CD portrait with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra/Gordan Nikolič at the Challenge Classics label. Except for To the Shadow of Reality she will also record Garden of Devotion.
The title alludes only to the piece's three movements. It's not based on any special form or composition technique, it's simply improvised. I had an important discussion with Tommie Lundberg about the multiphonics in the second movement of the piece, which helped me to make my final decisions about which sounds to use.
Triptyk was premiered by Tommie Lundberg (bass clarinet) and Olle Sjöberg (piano) in June 1990, Sjörup/Sweden.
Triptyk is recorded at Fylkingen Records (FYCD1001) by Tommie Lundberg and Olle Sjöberg and also on Alea Recording and Tacoma New Music (6/2000) by Michael and Kimberly Davenport. Triptyk is published by Universal Music Publishing AB - Hans Busch Musikförlag AB, distr. Gehrmans Musikförlag.
The title Twins refers to the twin relationship between the two instruments in the piece. The voices are often interwoven and the frequently changing expressions and characters wander freely between the instruments as if they were one. But, Twins also refers to the contradiction - contrast or adherence - that is sometimes perceivable between the instruments. Twins is composed in six short movements, each of which focuses on a separate expression.
Twins is recorded at Euterpe Musica (EMCD 1316) by Hege Waldeland, cello and Gunnar Spjuth, guitar.
Variations for Orchestra on Themes from Dietrich Buxtehude gets its melodic material from the organ production of Dietrich Buxtehude, from Klag-Lied (BuxWV 76) and Canzonetta (BuxWV 171), to be precise. The work was commissioned by Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra to be performed in the Concert Hall of Helsingborg in November 2007 for the 300 anniversary of the death of Buxtehude in 1707. Buxtehude worked some years as an organ-player in the Maria Church in Helsingborg in the middle of the 17th century, and that's why it seemed natural to base my thematic choice on his organ music. Variations for Orchestra is a free arrangement of Buxtehude's themes, in which I, through orchestrations, harmonizations, fugations and other techniques, have varied the music in different ways, and the result is music written with a glint in the eye. Different parts are abruptly tumbling into each other and groups of instruments are exposed against each other. The melancholy Klag-Lied that opens the work, emerges several times and finishes the work as well, always with the cor anglais as a sad melody leading instrument in the beautiful theme. In the finishing bars the music disappears in a mist, where the accompanying instruments stop playing one by one and finally, when the melody has faded away, only a broad chilly string chord remains, a chord that has sneaked into the piece and established itself. Published by Gehrmans Musikförlag.
The text poem At the End of Time, is written by the poet Jacques Werup. In 1999 I had to set music to a shorter text of Werup's, adapted to the tune As Time Goes By, but we agreed that I was to write a new "hit", taking the newly written "evergreen" as my starting point. This promise, so easily made over a glass of wine, proved unexpectedly hard to keep when I actually got down to the task of replacing a "classic". With As Time Goes By ringing in my ears, quite a number of diversionary tactics were called for before I was able to unravel a worthy alternative. Gradually the composition evolved, profoundly influenced by the gravity, the sentimentality and the subtle, precise detail characterising Werup's texts. The entire composition is one long pilgrimage to the concluding "hit". Initially the role of the orchestra is to highlight shades of meaning, accentuate moods and provide a setting for the reading of the text, and it is not until the end that the orchestra steps forward, as it were, to play THE TUNE, which it then proceeds to accompany as the reading gives way to singing.
At the End of Time was premiered by Jacques Werup, Malmö Symphony Orchestra and Peter Sebastian Szilvay in October 2002 at the Malmö Concert Hall, Sweden.
Vid tidens slut is recorded at Daphne Records (DAPHNE 1022) by Jacques Werup, Malmö Symphony Orchestra and Markus Lehtinen.
The violin concerto is my fifth solo concerto. Each concerto is influenced by the collaboration with the soloist I have written for, but also by the instrument itself and by my earlier solo concertos. In this particular violin concerto I have made an extra effort to emphasize the solo part in my instrumentation of chosen parts. In other parts the violin plays tutti together with the orchestra. This focusing is of course a striving not to drown the dynamically somewhat weak violin, but it also expresses a wish to orchestrate more transparently than I have done in earlier orchestral works. Doing so, I have also been able to expose the intimate expressions and nuances of the violin. The form of the work is, if anything, the result of an intuitive and improvised work, a growing progress rather than a structured model made up in advance. This gives the form an unpredictability that I like very much. The work contains solo cadenzas and distinct solo parts exposing the entire register of the violin's range and expression. It is a great challenge to write a violin concerto, especially considering all the masterpieces of the genre in music history. But this has incited me to try to find the best for the instrument and for my soloist, Jan Stigmer, who has supported my work in all ways through the whole process, from the first note on! Published by Gehrmans Musikförlag.
Some of the music of our time might be naturally born out of the growing interest on sound colour, but to Rolf Martinsson melody seems to be a very important ingredient - it is not difficult to recognize melodic motives when repeated. But Martinsson rather claims to give priority to the sound parameter. The title of the piece, Whiz, refers to a certain "extended technique", a kind of whistling, which towards the end of the piece is combined with vibraphone and crotales in uncommon, extraordinary beauty.
Whiz was premiered by Terje Thiwång (flute) and Roger Svedberg (percussion) in September 1992, Kristianstad/Sweden.
Whiz is recorded at dB Productions (DBPCD24) by Terje Thiwång and Roger Svedberg.
Wind Layers was written in 2002 on commission by the Swedish Army Corps who gave the world premiere in Linköping, Sweden 2002, under the baton of Music Director Mats Janhagen. The title refers to the different and complementary "wind layers" represented by different instrumental groups/combinations. The lack of strings has to be covered by the wind instruments which means a separate wind group (the clarinets) in itself. During my work it was obvious how the different instrumental groups with their limited range became excellent complements to each other. I also let each group interfere into the others to create complexity in terms of sound and colour. The title also refers to the harmony of the piece. Different harmony layers are combined into complex chords, especially in the second movement where the musical form is a game with mirror techniques. Each of the five short sections turns back from the middle bar in a retrograde version. I hope that Wind Layers can be an exciting bridge for young performers between the two opposite worlds of tonality and atonality.
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