tranströmersånger

instruments

alto solo, clarinet, bass clarinet, mandolin, guitar, violin, viola and violoncello

 

texts Tomas Tranströmer from the collection Sorgegondolen (”The Sad Gondola”)

 

movements
1. April och Tystnad
2. Tre Strofer –
3. Intermezzo I (instrumental) –
4. Tystnaden –
5. Intermezzo II (instrumental)
6. Landskap med solar

 

year of production 2009 – 2010

 

 

dedication Carina Vinke, Christian Karlsen and New European Ensemble

 

 

commissioner New European Ensemble

 

 

duration 20‘ (ensemble) 12‘ (piano)

 

 

first performance 
April 18 2009
Arnold Schönberg Zaal,
Koninklijk Conservatorium,
Den Haag, Netherlands
(first version: only mov 1, 2 and 6)
Carina Vinke, alto
New European Ensemble
Christian Karlsen, conductor

 

 

version for alto voice and piano
October 11 2009
Pulchri Studio
Den Haag, Netherlands
Carina Vinke, alto
Stefan Petrovic, piano

 

 

 

publisher

 

 

work comments

 

Tranströmersånger (”Tranströmer Settings”) (2009-10) was commissioned by and dedicated to Carina Vinke, New European Ensemble and Christian Karlsen. It was originally composed for voice and ensemble (consisting of clarinet, bass clarinet, mandolin, guitar, violin, viola and violoncello) and later set for voice and piano with the instrumental intermezzi left out.

 

The starting point for this work was poetry from Tomas Tranströmer’s Sorgegondolen “The Sorrow Gondola” which describes an author’s inability to write. The title is derived from a piano piece by Franz Liszt called La lugubre gondola, that was composed around the time of Richard Wagner’s passing and funeral procession in the canals of Venice. The harmonic backbone is based on the same pitch material as one of my previous works for solo guitar, Arpalinea. Using the same instrumentation as in Arnold Schönberg’s Serenade op. 24, the sound world is italian and inspired by paganini’s concertante-works, which included violin and viola along with mandolin and guitar. Musically I wanted to bring out the lyric and dramatic moods in these poems where you can picture the poetic content as a ”music drama without a stage”.

 

Tranströmersånger has been widely performed on tour with the New European Ensemble in the autumn of 2010 in Sweden, and in Holland at Pulchri Studio in The Hague and at White Crow Music Festival in Leiden.

Reviews on Tranströmersånger:

 

Foajén, Malmö Opera
May 15 2010 SWEDISH PREMIERE! (piano version)
Emma Lyrén
Max Lörstad

 

[…] ”Benjamin Staern is a composer from Malmö with every reason to keep an eye on. He has apparently been busy and have had works appearing on several international festivals, but I must admit that I knew nothing about his activities as a composer until I heard his ”Contrasts in Motion” at the Malmo Opera Percussion Concert ”Wildfire” earlier this year. The work was interesting, captivating, indeed purely entertaining and I was curious to hear more of his music. At Saturday’s chamber concert at the upper foyer of the Opera singer Emma Lyrén and pianist Max Lörstad performed three of Benjamin Staern compositions to poetical settings of Tomas Tranströmer. It was intelligent, well-written musical in the spirit of older romance art, with interesting contrasts, clear melodic vocal part and intricate passages for the piano. You get a clear sense that Staern actually writes for its listeners to tell you something and he expresses himself very well. It will be very interesting to see what he achieves in the future. For the good impression of these songs also contributed greatly Emma Lyréns well-modulated yet dramatic mezzo and Max Lörstads elegant touch with the piano part.” […]

Lars-Erik Larsson, Skånska Dagbladet May 17 2010.

Västerås Konserthus

 

October 9 2010 WORLD PREMIERE of extended version
Carina Vinke
New European Ensemble
Christian Karlsen

[…] ”Tranströmers clear drawn images receives a further dimension with aid of strings, winds and Carina Vinkes voice.” […]

 

Dan Linder Vestmanlandstidningen October 10th 2010

Capitol, Stockholm

October 9 (ensemble version) STOCKHOLM PREMIERE

Samtida Musik
Carina Vinke, alto
New European Ensemble
Christian Karlsen, conductor

 

[…] ”[was] the highlight of the evening. Staerns lyrical and virtuosic driven modernism is recognizable in these short settings there Vinkes voice had space to glare out in a dramatic top form. It was also received in the ensemble…They are playing impeccably great! I’m looking forward to hear more.” […]

 

Andreas Engström, Nutida Musik 4/2010-2011

 

November 27 2013
Palladium, Malmö

Carina Vinke, alto
New European Ensemble
Christian Karlsen, conductor

[…] ”Tranströmersånger” är en tonsättning av fyra dikter från ”Sorgegondolen”. Våren är öde och mulen och vad diktjaget vill säga ligger utom räckhåll, som bordssilver på havets botten. Men silvret överlever, till skillnad från krigets järn som rostar i marken, och i den fjärde dikten glider solen fram med sin röda blåst.
På en ny, mild ton sjöng alten Carina Vinke om denna sol som ska stå ”i den halvdöda grå skogen där vi skall arbeta och leva”. Vilken lättnad efter den tidigare ångesten. Men på sista ordet, ”leva”, sjönk rösten tillbaka mot mörkret. Solen lyser på arbetet, men livet är som det är, tycktes Staern vilja säga.
Som helhet var Staerns musik mycket expressiv…Den pekade på den latenta kraften i Tranströmers på ytan så enkla språk och undvek samtidigt en lurande fara: att musiken blir en Tranströmerkarikatyr.” […]
Tobias Lund, Sydsvenskan, October 29th 2013

 

 

January 25th 2018


Nana Bugge Rasmussen, alto
Manuel Esperilla, piano

 

[…] ”Blandt de mange værker trådte også tre melankolske sange til digte af Tomas Tranströmer frem. Skrevet af den unge svenske komponist Benjamin Staern. Her vekslede musikken mellem dunkle naturskildringer og helt jordnære betragtninger i en musik, der balancerede på en ironisk knivsæg med mezzosopranen Nana Bugge Rasmussen – mezzosoprano som dramatisk fortolker med et glimt i øjet.” […]

”Among the many works three melancholic songs emerged to settings by Tomas Tranströmer. Composed by the young Swedish composer Benjamin Staern. The music changed between dark descriptions of nature and entirely down to earth reflections in a music that balance on an ironic edge of a knife with the mezzosoprano Nana Bugge Rasmussen as a dramatic interpreter with a twinkle in the eye.”

 

Politiken January 29th 2018.

other performances

 

2010
May 15 SWEDISH PREMIERE (piano version)
Foajén, Malmö Opera
Emma Lyrén
Max Lörstad

 

October 9 2010 (ensemble version) WORLD PREMIERE of extended version
Västerås, Konserthuset
Västmanlandsmusiken

 

 

October 9 2010 (ensemble version) STOCKHOLM PREMIERE!
Capitol, Stockholm
Samtida Musik

 

 

October 12 2010 (ensemble version)
Röhsska muséet, Gothenburg

 

 

October 13  2010 (ensemble version)
Caroli Kyrka, Malmö

Connect Festival 2010

Carina Vinke, alto
New European Ensemble
Christian Karlsen, conductor

 

 

November 13 2010  (piano version) DUTCH PREMIERE of the complete version
Aalmarkthall, Leiden, Netherlands

White Crow Music Festival 2010

Carina Vinke, alto
Stefan Petrovic, piano

 

 

November 28 2010 (piano version) FRENCH PREMIERE!

Domaine de la Grange, La Prévôté, Savigny-Le-Temple, France
Gitta-Maria Sjöberg, alto
Philippe Cassard, piano

 

 

2012

October 12 2012 (piano version)
Karl Johan-kyrkan, Göteborg
Birgitta Flyborg, alto
Karl-Åke Felt , piano

 

 

2013

April 11 2013 (ensemble version) DUTCH PREMIERE!
Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

April 12 2013
Korzo Theater, Den Haag, Netherlands

 

April 13 2013
Musis Sacrum, Arnhem, Netherlands

Carina Vinke, alto
New European Ensemble
Christian Karlsen, conductor

 

November 27 2013
Palladium, Malmö
Carina Vinke, alto
New European Ensemble
Christian Karlsen, conductor

 

 

2018

January 25 2018 (piano version) DANISH PREMIERE!
Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark
Nana Bugge Rasmussen, alto
Manuel Esperilla, piano

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