Jan-Peter de Graaff’s ‘Pascal’ by Norrbotten Neo

Geplaatst op

On February 3rd the Swedish ensemble Norrbotten Neo will perform the world premiere of Jan-Peter de Graaff’s ‘Pascal’. This work was commissioned by the Swedish Radio and the International Rostrum of Composers (IRC). It will be conducted by Baldur Brönniman…   

Pascal is inspired by the movement of air (and thereby the creation of wind) from high to low pressure, according to the law of Buys-Ballot (Pascal is the metric unit for measuring Air Pressure). In the piece Jan-Peter de Graaff tried to translate the speed and pressure of air to rhythm and harmony. In this way a high air pressure translates to harmonies where the pitches are close together (clusters around the middle C on the piano). Low pressure translates to pitches that are far away from each other (extremely high and low sounds).

The piece starts with a little prelude: a hyperactive flute solo, accompanied by pizzicato strings and percussion, dancing and twirling around. Then the ‘main part’ of the piece starts: one cluster of sounds slowly moves until clearer harmonies are emerging, as the individual musical lines are slowly moving away from each other. This results in a chorale that is moving step-by-step, sometimes pausing, insecure of its direction. More and more the piece opens up and melodies are audible that move in faster tempi, giving the piece more momentum, until the string trio within the ensemble starts rapidly accelerating, disconnecting from the ensemble, until a dazzling speed has been reached. Gradually more and more instruments join the string trio moving towards a climax featuring a distorted hyperactive version of the chorale that suddenly vanishes (like the eye in a storm). Just one chord remains, with pitches being extremely distant from each other. The piano starts an epilogue: fast moving chromatic scales upwards; the pressure starts to build again…

More info about the concert

Pascal at the Donemus catalogue

Jan-Peter de Graaff at Donemus