Messiaen Quartet Copenhagen
March 17, 2024
AbouT Messiaen Quartet Copenhagen
The quartet’s instrumentation, crafted around the masterpiece “Quartour pour la fin du temps” gives a range of unique possibilities and combinations, enabling them to break down and remould traditional genres and masterpieces, which the quartet take advantage of with their creative programming.
The Messiaen Quartet is constantly challenging and developing its’ musicality by commissioning many new works from leading composers, and as a result their concerts and premieres are regularly transmitted live on the radio. They have delighted many audiences by performing arrangements of larger orchestral works (Debussy’s ‘l’apres midi d’un faun’ and Wagner’s ‘Isolde Liebestod’ to name a few) where the symphonic sound and depth is ingeniously and naturally blended with intimate chamber music, which comes so naturally to the quartet.
MQC is the driving force in Østerbro Music Society, Copenhagen, a hive of activity where new ideas are developed and intimacy between the musicians and the audience is prioritised. The quartet is regularly invited to perform on tours in Europe and Asia.
The ensemble is from 2024 artistic directors of the Båstad International Chamber-music Festival.
The musicians of MQC:
Viktor Wennesz – Clarinet
Malin William-Olsson Violin
Carl-Oscar Østerlind – Cello
Kristoffer Hyldig – Piano
Abîme en forme de coeur – Gonçalo Rodrigues
“Abîme en forme de coeur” is a piece rooted in silence. It expresses an abyss full of colours and textures, surrounded by restlessness and enveloped by darkness. The music portrays a tangible emptiness within oneself, an emptiness one does not live without. Accepting one’s solitude is the key to finding peace amidst a wounded heart. The silence is everything. It means oneself; it means our own presence within a world of sounds. And maybe this sadness reaches for something tender, comforting the nostalgic feeling of one’s existence.
Duality – Ian Whiteford
“Duality” is an exploration of the open intervals – fifths and fourths. It centres around a single pitch and uses various combinations of fifths and fourths around that centre point. The piece explores how these intervals can both be very consonant, but also dissonant through a journey from consonance to dissonance and back to consonance. The duality can also be seen in the balance between simplicity and complexity, movement and stillness.
Glömda intriger (Forgotten plots) – Elias Von Proschek
A tentative opening in strings and clarinet, undulating over frail harmonies, is brusquely interrupted by a mechanistic piano, playing an unrelated music. The opposing strands, simple on their own but ambiguous in juxtaposition, alternate but never quite interact, weaving the ensemble into a fragmented patchwork before ultimately coming together in a grotesque, halting dance.
Tick – August Jansson
“Tick” is meant to represent the angst and acceptance behind the constant ticking that propels things forward, such as time. Throughout the piece small windows of mixes of emotion can be heard expressed with similar rhythmic motifs, emphasizing that even constants can change depending on context.
La furia del Pueblo (The fury of the people) – Alan Haksten
While in Buenos Aires, I saw the latest popular demonstrations against the far-right government of Argentina, which just assumed power. This music was created in that context where the people always demonstrate against the oppression of right-wing political adjustments.
The simplicity that is this year’s theme of the festival was a trigger. We can hear it in both the harmonic and melodic resources of the piece. Only a few resources are highlighted.
Tactile Breath – Arvid Olson
Tactile Breath explores 4 concrete ideas that were used as pools of inspiration during a very fast and concentrated composition process. The first movement is exploring the idea if sound as physical objects in space and how we often talk and think about music as shapes, textures or landscapes. The second movement focuses on natural beauty and finding art in already existing, everyday life with the instruments producing sounds that requires minimum manipulation. The third movement explores the Japanese breathing technique ”Missoku” used in koumusou shakuhachi playing to achieve long, well projected notes with great control. The fourth and final movement delves into micro-expressions and micro-tonality, telling it’s story with only the smallest variations.
Piruetter (Pirouettes) – Agnes Salomonsson
Through four short movements a balloon, portrayed by the clarinetist, swirls around in windy weather. With playful melodies and rapid instrument changes, the piece depicts the unpredictability of the wind and the pirouette-like flight of the balloon.
After the End of Time – Alvi Joensen
This composition is Alvi Joensen’s homage to Olivier Messiaen, who’s work “Quartet pour le fin du temps” has been an important source of inspiration. This premiere of the work “After the End of Time” includes the first of many movements, where Joensen explores simple sonorities in combination with timelessness under the theme of the festival “Simplicity”.
Gonçalo Rodrigues began his studies in composition at the School of Arts, University of Évora, and after completing his degree he entered his master’s degree in composition at Musikhögskolan i Malmö in Sweden. He completed his master’s degree in June 2023 and is currently enrolled in a second master’s degree. His studies in Portugal with Christopher Bochmann and Hugo Ribeiro notably influenced his musical style, more specifically his serialist techniques. However, his more recent studies with Bent Sørensen and Staffan Storm have revealed in his music a more authentic personality and form as well as a passion for dense and suffocating textures with melancholic melodies.
Ian Whiteford is a composer born in London but raised in Trollhättan, Sweden. After high school, he spent two years studying at Södra Vätterbygdens Folkhögskola, with the piano as his main instrument. He went on to study composition at the Malmö Academy of Music, where he is now in his third year. Whiteford usually puts a lot of weight on depicting non-musical concepts in his music. However, this piece was composed in a more methodical way and is an exploration of a specific aspect of music as opposed to depicting something particular.
Elias von Proschek (b. 1996) trained as a horn player before pursuing composition. He is currently in the first year of the Master programme. His music – mostly instrumental, occasionally electronic – is characterised by a restless, searching quality, existing in an ever forward-leaning stream of consciousness.
August Jansson is a Swedish composer currently studying at the Malmö Academy of Music. His music focuses on innovation in tonal music and expression based on systems found in the mathematical and digital world. Drawing inspiration from the entire spectrum of music legacy, his music feels familiar yet never fails to let the obvious admiration for fiendish dissonance shine through.
Alan Haksten. Composer, accordionist and guitarist born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1984. He studied guitar and accordion with different private teachers, graduating in composition and electroacoustic composition at the National University of the Arts (UNA) in Buenos Aires and Arrangements at the Academia Nacional del Tango. He studied Scoring for Film and Media at the University of Gothenburg and the University of Umeå. Currently he is studying a Master’s in Composition for Audiovisual Media at Lund
University. Alan has been part of various musical projects, in which he has been able to develop as a composer and instrumentalist, and he has toured in Europe and South America several times. He has composed pieces for theater, dance and audiovisual projects and has also released eight albums.
Arvid Olson started taking piano lesson at the age of 6, and is currently finishing his masters in composition at Malmö Academy of Music. He takes a special interest in Japan and his music combines influences from Japanese modern as well as traditional music, jazz, classical and western contemporary styles.
Agnes Salomonsson moved from Ljungby, Småland, to Malmö during high school for piano studies. Since then, she has studied composition at the Academy of Music in Malmö and will soon finish her bachelor’s degree. Her music is characterized by distinctive melodies and rapid changes in character.
Alvi Joensen is a guitarist and composer with a fascination for the unknown, the macabre and humour. As a performer he commissions new pieces on regular basis and plays pieces on the verge of oblivion. As a composer he balances on the edge between tonality and atonality, constantly seeking new sounds, timbres and expressions.