Inventing the Past
Invitation to perform with the O/ModerntFestival Orchestra in one concert at their annual festival. My role was to play continuo in Bach’s third Brandenburg Concerto.
Description of project
The O/Modernt Festival Orchestra is an international ensemble dedicated to the performance of a wide range of repertoire, from early to contemporary music. Performances are characterised by unusual juxtapostions of repertoire, new instrumentation, unexpected improvisatory elementsetc. Concerts are curated thematically, and the high point of the orchestra is an annual festival at Confidencen, Ulriksdals Slottsteater, Solna. The artistic director of the festival, and the orchestra, is violinist Hugo Ticciati. The 2021 festival was a celebration of its tenth anniversary, dedicated to music performed during earlier years, plus new commissions. My task was to play continuo on hammarklavier in Bach’s third Brandenburg Concerto, including the improvisation of a short second movement (the original is made up of a final cadence only). I chose to form my improvisationaround a standard passacaglia bass-line, but to realise it with chords that sometimes strayed overthe bounds of Baroque practice. Using the feel and the soundof the hammarklavier as inspiration I aimed to nudge the listeners’ awareness away from their notions of ahistorical Bach and into the world of early classicism and beyond.My choice of hammarklavier rather than harpsichord fitted in with the general tenor of the programme, which was entitled “Inventing the Past.”In comparison with the harpsichord, the hammarklavier’s greater tonal range increased the possibilities of investing the continuo line with rhythmic direction and drive. It’s singing quality suited the solo improvisation of the second movement.The Brandenburg Concerto began the concert’s first half, which continued with Bach-related music by Yevtushenko (b. 1957), Villa-Lobos, and Indris Joner (b. 1963).The second half contained music by Philip Glass, Beethoven (arr. Johannes Marmén b. 1990), Marzi Nyman (b.1979), David Bowie and Jean Sibelius. Apart from the Bach, I took part in the Idris Joner and the final three pieces of the second half on (modern) piano. The overall challenge of performing in a programme of this kind is to allow associations to flow freely between composers and styles, and to be prepared to discover a red connecting thread only in the moment of performing the entire programme. This seems fairly natural in a standard festival format with a full house and an audience pre-disposed to enjoy themselves. But as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the normally full auditiorium at Confidencen was sparsely populated, and the concert was relayed live over the internetinstead. This introduced a second challenge: imagining the warmth of the virtual audience, and not being disturbed by the acoustic, which became more reverberant thanusual.
Type of work
1) A concert in 3) a festival.
Confidencen, Ulriksdals Slottsteater, Solna
Link to web site