Hanna Kulenty – Double Cello Concerto

On Tuesday, November 27th, Magdalena Bojanowicz and Bartosz Koziak and the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra will give the world premiere of Hanna Kulenty’s “Double Cello Concerto”. This concert is part of the 1st International Music Festival of Central-Eastern Europe EUFONIE…   

For years Hanna Kulenty has been dealing with the phenomenon of time in music. Music is for her the most perfect language to express this so-called “time” in the most appropriate way. The art she deals with, is an attempt to touch metaphysics. By trying to subdue the phenomenon of time she tries to purify the so-called soul – katarsis and body – emotion.

For her, imitating nature, interpreting nature, e.g. imitating the glissando of a flying plane, imitating the glissando of the wind, interpreting the singing of birds, dolphins, whales, bees, frogs, cicadas, even people and some human deeds is art. Art is perfection in a worthy, noble imitation of nature. Art is perfection in the interpretation of nature.

Art is to touch mysticism and the art is to convey it. Kulenty tries to embrace this cosmos with her human senses, where everything is in its own time, and she only transforms this time, slowing down or accelerating this cosmic nature. And here she shares another conclusion: art is to slow down or accelerate the time of nature. The unrealisation of nature’s time, the unrealisation of nature, the unrealisation of time. This is the art she wants to do by writing subsequent works, like her “DoubleCelloConcerto”.

She presents musical surrealism in this “DoubleCelloConcerto”. Recently she called her music not only “polyphony of space-time”, but also “Musique Surrealistique”. Because she is a composer who consciously connects and will combine individual musical elements in such a way as to change time.

For example, she tries to stretch the melody so that the apparent lack of contact with this melody strikes our subconscious, or she tries to accelerate this melody so that there is no room for any reflection, and only our subconscious guesses to the possible prose of this melody. She changes time for the musical elements. Changes their states.

Hanna Kulenty calls herself a music surrealist, not a conventional surgeon, because she does not “bury” in the convention for the sake of compositional principle or technique, but only “rubbing” against the convention. She is a music surrealist because she conveys to the listener the states and emotional gestures that may accompany the convention, but do not have to. She is more interested in imitating and transforming nature directly than in imitating someone else’s imitation, i.e. convention.

Emotional gestures, which should move, have been known since the beginning of music’s existence and this is what interests her the most. She’s interested in making these gestures unreal and the fact that there are elements of a convention at the same time, such as a “human” melody, is a secondary matter.

She doesn’t “play” with e.g. Baroque, but plays with the emotional state, the energy that can accompany Baroque. Not afraid of emotions, because music is, and perhaps even above all, emotion. That is why she prefers to move rather than bore. And this is precisely the attempt to move, move her musical surrealism, immersed in the polyphony of space-time continuum, she will undertake once again.

With great pleasure, she presents “DoubleCelloConcerto”, which is dedicated to great soloists: Magdalena Bojanowicz and Bartosz Koziak. The title “DoubleCelloConcerto” is deliberately written continuously and in capital letters. It is supposed to suggest the musical trance that Kulenty wants to achieve in this work.

The parts of both cellos throughout the piece, regardless of the changing “themes”, form an inseparable musical tissue that resembles the natural delay of one or the other cello: the signal and the echo of the signal. It does not matter which of the soloists initiates the leading narrative. The soloists exchange both the initiation of the narration and their echoes. Sometimes it is a very short echo, sometimes longer, sometimes the cellos play in a rhythmic unison, so that in a moment they “divide” again more or less. In the culmination of the piece, the cello is gradually added in both parts also electronic delay, which is supposed to strengthen and make even more unreal the already unreal, already existing music material. 

The first (the name is conventionally) “theme” of the song is a simple, calm and nostalgic melody, as if a pop song, maintained on the sound plane, resembling the key of C major. The pop melody rises upwards in a somewhat predictable way. Why is the development of the melody “in a certain sense predictable”? Because by raising the sound tissue upwards, human emotions naturally and physiologically grow as well. Kulenty wants them to grow because she can now cut them off in an unpredictable way and thus control emotions. The unpredictability in this predictability lies in disturbing this nostalgic emotion with a different, violent and surprisingly contrasting emotion.

The second “dam” will be the aggressive, sharp “interludes” of this pop melody, which are based on the Hindu scale, always initiated from the sound of F sharp – this is precisely the contrast. It is never known when the “interlude” will break the calm of the melody and here the main tension of the initial phase of the piece is built up. The specific bitonality of these musical tissues develops for several to several minutes. It accelerates the tempo and pulse. The melody is consistently replaced by “interludes” developing in their virtuoso matter, which finally become the most important. Fortunately, however, the pop melody has “nestled” in the subconscious for good. We are waiting for it all the time. It is supposed to be like that! Will she come back?. For now a secret.

The third “theme” is the rock climax of the song. It is a “gallop” of the cello, which also culminates, with natural delay, and finally also with electronic delay. Against this background also the culminating drums. Total trans? A ritual? Yes. The third theme is also the natural culmination of the second theme. We are waiting for it, we expect it, but we never know when it will happen.

The second theme transforms into the third theme fluently, organically. The structure of music changes from jazz-and-Hindu music to more rock music. The orchestra, in the whole construction of the “overlapping” of these three themes by solo cellos, participates under similar conditions: narration and echo, light and shadow, black-and-white, one would like to say: zero-one….

So, without stops, without division into parts, without a “hold”, we will rush into her cosmos, controlled by her emotions, her compositional skills and her choice of music, which she wants to write and which cannot be imposed on her in any way. So she won’t be “inventing”, but she’ll enjoy her next combinations and permutations of orchestral instruments, the sequences of which have not been exhausted yet for a long time, and which music can restore emotions and give emotions back to the music. 

Through the sounds of the two cellos of the soloists and the orchestra, Kulenty will “sculpt” in her own subconscious, superconscious, sur-conscious… Or, if you prefer, she will continue to discover her sub-reality, over-reality, sur-reality…. – “Musique Surrealistique” – and share it with others. “Musique Surrealistique” is, in Kulenty’s opinion, the future of music, and “DoubleCelloConcerto” is one of the ways of this realization.

Donemus network meeting!

On Friday, January 11th, the Donemus Foundation welcomes composers, musicians and other music friends at the Hague Tower.
Enjoy the view, meet your friends.
A time to reflect on 2018
and discuss our ambitions for 2019…   

Klas Torstensson – Lantern Lectures I-IV (1999-2003)

On November 29th and 30th the ensemble Norbotten NEO, conducted by Christian Karlsen will perform the complete cycle ‘Lantern Lectures’ by Klas Torstensson. The four volumes have over the past fifteen years been performed in a number of countries by ensembles such as Asko|Schönberg, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Modern, Oslo Sinfonietta, KammarensembleN, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and Sinfonietta Riga, conducted by conductors such as Etiënne Siebens, Koen Kessels, Lorraine Vaillancourt, Christian Eggen, Hans Leenders and Normunds Sne. Now in De Doelen & Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ…   

After having completed his opera The Expedition (1994-1999), Klas Torstensson felt a need to write music which was ‘lighter’ and of a smaller format. At the same time, he realised that he himself and his creative work would never be the same again after he had written an opera about Death and Love!
While working on the opera, he received commissions from several ensembles: Asko Ensemble (Amsterdam), Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (Montréal), KammarensembleN (Stockholm) and Klangforum Wien. He decided to write a cycle of works for all these ensembles – a cycle where every single work could be performed independently, and where each piece, when the cycle was completed, would function as a ‘movement’ in a larger whole.
The different ‘volumes’ are introduced by a ‘brass link’ for trumpet, horn and trombone. These ‘brass links’ can also be performed independently as Four Brass Links.

Volume I
Volume I was commissioned by Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and has a bass drum as its main character, a bass drum which is played with brushes. The title Solid Rocks refers to the layers or stratas that can be found in the music: veins being forced into the flow of the music. Volume I was premiered in May 2001 in Montréal by Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne.

Volume II
In Volume II the division in layers is maybe even more striking. Moments of freeze are projected against an active, massive and percussive row of events. Raw surfaces opposed to playful gestures. This volume was commissioned by Südwestrundfunk Stuttgart, and it was premiered in February 2003 by Klangforum Wien.

Volume III
As most of us know, the northern lights, the Aurora Borealis, do not produce any sound, despite myths telling the opposite. Several years ago Klas Torstensson received a recording of distorted radio waves, the distortion caused by the northern lights. These recordings were treated until he obtained something which he experienced as beautiful, multilayered electronic sound: the sound of the northern lights, if the northern lights had produced any sound!
In his opera The Expedition this sound plays an important role. In some of the parts of Aurora Borealis, he has transcribed and orchestrated one of the incoming layers for ensemble.
Volume III was commissioned by the Swedish Concert Institute and is dedicated to Göran Bergendal. Its premiere took place in Stockholm in February 2002.  

Volume IV
Giants’ Cauldron – or potholes – are cylindrical holes in the bedrock of a glacier, created by rotating stones in the water running underneath the glacier. In this work, we hear musical loops rotating in a similar way.
Volume IV was premiered in the Festival Éclat in Stuttgart in February 2003 by Klangforum Wien.

Concert at the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ

Concert at De Doelen

Boris Filanovsky – Throughchant on Woruld Sprouting (Propéven)

“Propéven”, for violin and accordion solo, vocal ensemble, chamber choir, and spatially distributed orchestra, is written like a kind of Russian war requiem. The world premiere will take place in the Moscow Philharmonic by The State Russian Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Jurowski in November 2018. Filanovsky has previously composed works inspired by Filonov’s paintings: his work “Polyphonion” (concerto after Pavel Filonov’s “Formulas” for extended violin, accordion and 6 instruments) has been highly appreciated by local critics as truly equivalent to Filonov’s “analytic art” as a method. In June 2003, “Polyphonion” won Irino Prize for Chamber Music (Tokyo). It was performed also by Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Nieuw Ensemble, Ensemble 2e2m and Ensemble UnitedBerlin.
The premiere of this will now take place at the 6th International Festival of Actual Music “Another space”…   

“…I met this one artist and asked him if he was going to war. “I am already at war” he answered “only it is a war to conquer time, not space.” I crouch in my trench and grab scraps of time from the past. It is a rough assignment, just as bad as you would have in a battle for space.” He always painted people with only one eye. I looked at his chokecherry eyes, his pale cheeks… This painter (Filonov) painted a feast of corpses, a feast of vengeance. The dead ate vegetables in a solemn ceremony, and over them all, like the ray of the moon, shines a grief-stricken madness.” (Velimir Khlebnikov, “Ka”)

One hundred years ago, World War I set an end to the old Europe. The painter and poet Pavel Filonov experienced this war as a soldier and died of starvation in 1941 during the German Siege of Leningrad. Like no other artist in Russia and probably the world, he managed to illustrate the World war with giant, dreadful frescos. Even though Filonov’s artistic vision expertly depicts the whole 20th century, his prophetic art is almost unknown. The cause of this scant publicity of Filonov in the Western countries might be that for more than fifty years until the late 1980s, Filonov’s paintings were prohibited or had a semi-legal status in Soviet Union. However, as measured by his historical significance, he is on a par with Malevich or Kandinsky, and he far surpasses them in terms of visual mastery.
In his canvases, produced around WWI, Filonov made his method of “analytic art” flourish. Nowadays, his century-aged experience is topical and necessary again. According to Filonov, the grotesque occurrences of the 20th century destroyed both humanism and the pursuit of beauty, such as “seid umschlungen, Millionen”. As an analyst and visionary, Filonov shows no mercy to his heroes and interprets war as natural state of living matter. This is a very special, relentless humanism by a first-hand witness and master of the visual medium.

“Propéven’ o Prórosli Miróvoi” (Throughchant on Woruld Sprouting, 1915), the only literary text written by Filonov, is one of the most outstanding work within the literature of Russian Futurism. The language of “Propeven” is a kind of literary summary taken by Filonov from his paintings, both created (The Kings’ Feast) and conceived at that period (The Man’s Rebirth, The Formula of Cosmos, The White Picture). The style of “Propeven” unites the futuristic “zaum’” (Russian dada), biblical narrative, and expressionism. Nowadays, Russian art critics characterize the Filonov’s manner as a “vast and rigorous non-figurative ‘overture’ of primarily visual level proceeding and and producing the figurative forms or archetypes” (Evgeny Kovtun). These “figurative forms” can be seen through “the bodies of human beings or animals,” which “are plugged into a worldwide power net” (Boris Grois).

A pathos of Filonov’s “analytic art” blazes also in the colossal tension of his word creation. “Propeven” is, in a way, absolute text about death and transfiguration, but in the same instance, a documentation of the epoch’s apotheosis of war and victory. It is so massive that Russian culture seemed to avoid it for more than a hundred years; in particular, Russian composers did not resolve to address it yet.
Music for “Propeven” has been conceived as building up the links missed in the Filonov’s “chain of arts”—a very remote version of the Gesamtkunstwerk Filonov was dreaming of.

Boris Filanovsky (translated by Claudia Gotta)

Boris Filanovsky (b. 1968) is one of the leading Russian composers, laureat of international competitions, author of two operas, symphonic, chamber, and vocal works, a master with an unusual manner. He often works on the boundaries of genres, as he does not preserve his soundscape but instead tries to regenerate in each new work. He belongs to very rare (in modern days) Stravinskian artistic type that places the form above the sound. Filanovsky actively deals with first Russian avant-garde in works.

More info

Jenufa String Quartet plays Hans Kox string quartets

On November 24th the Jenufa String Quartet will perform all three string quartets of Hans Kox at the concert series of “Cruquius Concerten’ in Amsterdam…   

Hans Kox is one of the oldest living composers in The Netherlands. His impressive oeuvre covers the full range from solo works to operas. In 2016 the Jenufa String Quartet of his 3rd String Quartet. Ynske Gunning wrote in her review:

Voor wie de uitvoering van Kox’ derde strijkkwartet door het Jenufakwartet gemist heeft: wees er een volgende keer bij, want het is een mooi en spannend stuk… De vier musici voelen zich thuis in dit strijkkwaret, ze voeren het met zorg en precisie uit.

Het stuk biedt stroost van de schoonheid die zich er uiteindelijk niet onder laat krijgen. Muziek om vaker te beluisteren.

More info about the concert

Hans Kox at Donemus



Adam Łukawski – Humors

On Monday, November 19th, the Maat Saxophone Quartet will bring the world premiere of Adam Łukawski – Humors at SAX18 – New Music Festival Amsterdam, in Sweelinckzaal at 20h15…   

The title of the piece by Adam Łukawski refers to the ancient proto-medical theory of temperaments in which 4 types of fluids/personalities were reasons for different behaviours in humans. In the work there are 4 characters: sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic and melancholic – each of them playing at their own tempo. They follow each other, by constantly changing the leader, in order to be able to keep the musical work (here: the metaphor of the human psyche and body kept in balance) going.

SAX18 is a classical saxophone festival hosted by the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. This time the focus will be on new music, with lots of premieres by a.o. the saxophone students of the CvA with special involvement of teachers Arno Bornkamp and Willem van Merwijk.

Humors at Donemus

Website of Adam Łukawski

More about SAX 18

Homage to Theo Smit Sibinga (1899-1958)

After Smit Sibinga’s death, Everard van Royen, director of the Amsterdam Music Lyceum, praised him as a sensitive and skillful composer and “the beauty of the ancient civilization of the Indonesian archipelago which had influenced him during his twenty years in the tropics.
Now, 60 years after his death, a concert at Rode Hoed on November 24th will present some of his chamber music works…   

Theodore Henri Smit Sibinga was born in Bandung and still a toddler when his family returned to the Netherlands. After high school, he started cello lessons with Bertrand Drilsma and Marix Loevensohn, and later with Gérard Hekking, the principal cellist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. Already at the age of seven, Theo wrote his first compositions. He relished his lessons in instrumentation theory with the composer Cornelis Dopper. With a teaching diploma from the Nederlandsch Muziekpedagogisch Verbond, he returned to the Dutch East Indies in 1921, against his father’s wishes. Already after two years, he had to give up a promising career as a cellist because of a tumor on his left hand. The operation had failed. Nevertheless, he performed once in a while, even Rachmaninov’s notoriously difficult sonata in g minor. In the daily De Preangerbode of May 13, 1932: “an extraordinarily talented cellist, rewarded by a thunderous applause. That certainly wasn’t the practice of an amateur!”…

Read more about Theo Smit Sibinga at Forbidden Music Regained

Strijkkwartet nr. 1 in C (1933)
Piano Sonatine (1934)
‘Grootmoeders Rust’ voor sopraan en piano (1948)
Suite voor fluit & Piano (1952)
‘Trois images’ voor fluit & harp (1954)
‘Enfants-Poètes’ Liederen voor mezzo sopraan & piano (1955)
‘Los Borrachos voor cello en piano (1952)

Robin Veldman & Myrthe Greuter, viola
Cleo van Aanhold, viola
Dieuwke Smit Sibinga, cello
Henry Kelder, piano
Elsbeth Gerritsen, mezzo-soprano
Pauline Lotichius, flute
Alexandre Bonnet, harp
Mirjam van Hengel, presentation

More info about the concert and tickets

“We zijn ongelooflijk trots dat wij onze bijzondere (over) grootvader na zestig jaar met dit prachtige concert mogen herdenken.” (Antoinette Collignon – Smit Sibinga)

Alexey Retinsky – De Profundis

At the 6th International Festival of Actual Music “Another space” on November 29, 2018, starting at 7 p.m. at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow, the famous conductor Vladimir Jurowski and the Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra will perform ‘De Profundis’ by Alexey Retinsky…   

The symphonic piece by Alexey RetinskyDe profundis” refers to the first line of the 130th psalm of the Book of Psalms. The 130th psalm is a call to God in deep sorrow, from “out of the depths” (de profundis). In content it is a prayer for absolution, as a symbol of deep suffering, the scale of the tragic experiences of the oppressed, laying their hope for salvation. But faith in the author of the psalm in the mercy of the Lord and the expiration creates a cheerful and joyful tone to the entire content of the psalm.

The first edition of the symphonic work was created in 2012, at a time when Alexey Retinsky studied coincidently at the Tschaikovski National Music Academy of Kiev and Zurich University of the Arts. The first edition of “De Profundis” was created as a graduation piece for the Tschaikovski National Music Academy of Kiev. With the exception of the exam, the pieсe has never been performed. Absolutely new edition of the pieсe was created in 2015.

The score of “De Profundis” was selected by conductor Vladimir Jurowski at the anonymous contest of the festival “Another Space” (Moscow). Its premiere will take place at the Moscow Philharmonic Hall on 29th November with Vladimir Jurowski conducting the Svetlanov Symphony Orchestra.

A shade I am remote from sombre hamlets.
The silence of God
I drank from the woodland well.
On my forehead cold metal forms.
Spiders look for my heart.
There is a light that fails in my mouth.
At night I found myself upon a heath,
Thick with garbage and the dust of stars.
In the hazel copse,
Crystal angels have sounded once more.

(from the poem De Profundis by Georg Trakl; translated by Michael Hamburger)

More info about the concert
Alexey Retinsky at Donemus

Michael Fine – Double Concerto

One of the most enjoyable aspects of composing is hearing different musicians bringing their own sensibilities to your music. Sadly and too often, world premiere also can mean last performance. Michael Fine has been fortunate in the case of his Double Concerto for Two Violins and String Orchestra with two different sets of soloists and orchestras having performed the work. Now, a new ensemble and soloists will perform it…    

On 1 November in Dusseldorf, two young rising violin stars – Esther Yoo and David Nevel will perform the Concerto in the Robert Schumann Saal with the Swiss-based LGT Young Soloists directed by Alexander Gilman, also a superb violinist. The next evening, 2 November, the same ensemble with soloists Christa-Maria Stangorra and David Nebel will play the Netherlands premiere in his home concert hall Rotterdam’s De Doelen.

The Double Concerto for Two Violins and String Orchestra from 2015 is a 21st-century Concerto Grosso contrasting tightly woven, virtuosic music for the two soloists with the string orchestra which responds in kind but occasionally chooses a different direction which the soloists then follow. Although the work is in three movements, its melodies, harmonies, and musical lines flow across the movement boundaries, ending with a miniature cadenza for the two soloists.

More about the concert at De Doelen
Double Concerto at Donemus

Kate Moore – Bosch Requiem at November Music 2018

In many churches, the all-seeing eye is watching. On All Souls’ Day they might wink from above. Australian composer Kate Moore loves ‘sacred places’ and ‘eyes’. The traditional ‘Bosch Requiem’ promises to be a spectacular edition this year…   

November Music commissioned Kate Moore to write the requiem Lux Aeterna: VIVID, a composition full of spiritual imagination, composed for the combination of old music specialists Cappella Pratensis, Wishful Singing, TEMKO and Kate Moore’s own Herz Ensemble, with a violinist as Joseph Puglia and pianist Vivian Choi. While composing, Kate Moore winked at the three saints Sinte-Clara, Saint John and Saint Lucia, patron of the blind. These three saints accompany us during the journey from darkness to eternal light and resurrection, according to the composer. The three movements are named: Lucidity: Eyes of Hands, Providence: Revelation of the Creatures and Clarity: In Praise or Poverty.

Read more… (Dutch)