We are pleased to present a new recording of Gérard Grisey's rarely performed youth work, "Mégalithes," for 15 brass players.
It took almost 50 years before Grisey's youth work, "Mégalithes" (1969), for 15 brass players, had its Norwegian premiere.
For the opening of the newMusic festival "Only Connect" in 2018, the NyNorsk Brass Quintet and Brasskompaniet performed the piece under the direction of conductor Halldis Rønning.
Standing on different platforms throughout the floors of the Winter Garden at Sentralen, Oslo, musicians and conductor performed Mégalithes as intended by the composer, exploring the acoustic possibilities of the space and surrounding the audience with sound.
For this concert, a brand new electroacoustic piece was also commissioned from Norwegian composer Anders Tveit. Bjørnar Habbestad, artistic director of NyMusikk, conceived the program idea and took the initiative for the commission. The idea was to create a new work that engaged in a sonic dialogue with Gérard Grisey.
The result was the electroacoustic piece titled "Untitled echoes for adjacent rooms. Listening to Gerard Grisey" (2018), where Tveit utilizes fragmented and electronically processed raw recordings from the musicians' performance of Mégalithes. During the premiere at Sentralen, the audience was invited to embark on a soundwalk through stairs and platforms while Tveit manipulated the electroacoustic music in real-time across a series of speakers installed on different floors. The composition bears a strong artistic signature while engaging in a dialogue with and complementing Mégalithes, thus providing us with an understanding of the profound influence Gerard Grisey has had on contemporary composers in the field of contemporary music. Anders Tveit on "Untitled echoes for adjacent rooms. Listening to Gerard Grisey":
"The opportunity to engage in a dialogue with Grisey's material was difficult to decline, as his music is of great importance to me. The spatiality, the expressive expression, and the rawness of the brass sound make this material highly exciting, both to listen to and to work with." This recording documents this unique concert project. According to the score, Megalithes can be performed in 9 different versions, and on this recording, you will hear two of the different variants (version 3 and 7) that frame Anders Tveit's "Untitled echoes for adjacent rooms. Listening to Gerard Grisey." Joining NyNorsk Brass Quintet on this recording is a fantastic lineup of musicians from the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra, the Royal Norwegian Navy Band, the Armed Forces Staff Band, and freelance musicians.
Gérard Grisey (1946 - 1998) was a student of composer Olivier Messiaen but quickly broke away from the techniques of serialism. His new style adopted a more instinctive approach and became known as "musique spectrale," an exploration of the fundamental principles of pitch, harmony, and musical time that greatly influenced the next generation of composers.
Mégalithes was composed before Grisey began exploring spectral techniques when he was only 23 years old. The piece is intended to commemorate the innocent victims who died in the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War. It is not difficult to find parallels to the human catastrophe in this monumental composition. The music grows and explodes with massive power, only to retreat and gather into new clusters of dissonance. At the same time, there is a rawness to the sound, and the piece truly explores the sonic possibilities and extremes of brass instruments. Mégalithes was premiered in Lucerne in 2009, 40 years after the work was written. In 2014, it was performed in the United Kingdom with musicians from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro Ilan Volkov. NyNorsk Brass Quintet, Brasskompaniet, and Halldis Rønning were responsible for the Norwegian premiere in 2018. Since then, NyNorsk Brass Quintet, with additional musicians, has performed the piece two more times: in Kulturkirken JAKOB in 2021, conducted by Halldis Rønning, and in Tønsberg Cathedral in 2022, conducted by Ilan Volkov. In all these concerts, Mégalithes has been performed together with "Untitled echoes for adjacent rooms. Listening to Gerard Grisey."
Halldis Rønning is a renowned Norwegian conductor with extensive experience in classical music, contemporary music, and experimental art. She has conducted major Norwegian symphony orchestras, military bands, contemporary music ensembles, as well as several large theater and TV productions. She has also worked as a conductor in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Vietnam.
In 2006, she became the first woman to conduct at the Hanoi Opera House, and between 2011 and 2013, she served as the assistant conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, becoming the first Norwegian woman to have a long-term contract as a conductor in a Norwegian orchestra. Rønning is deeply committed to new music and interdisciplinary projects. She has conducted numerous premieres in Norway and abroad and has had successful collaborations with important figures in the Norwegian contemporary music scene, such as the Trondheim Sinfonietta, BIT20 Ensemble, and CIKADA Ensemble. In recent years, she has explored interdisciplinary and creative work within the arts, including dance, improvisation, and composition. In 2022, she collaborated with composer Hilmar Thordarson and video artist Thorbjörg Jonsdottir to create a stage work premiered at the Reykjavik Arts Festival in collaboration with the Icelandic Opera. Currently, she is pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Stavanger, Faculty of Performing Arts, where she is researching the expansion of the conductor's role towards creative art.
Anders Tveit (born 1977) is a composer and musician who works with electroacoustic composition and improvisation, where the use of self-developed software for real-time processing and spatial sound plays a central role in his personal musical expression. As a musician, he has collaborated with internationally renowned groups and artists such as the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Audun Kleive, Ingrid Laubrock/Cory Smythe, NyNorsk Brass Quintet, Alex Gunia, Øyvind Brække, Natasha Barrett, Parallax Trio, Ensemble Kammerklang, Pd Conception, and various ad-hoc improvisation duos.
As a composer, he has created a range of multichannel electroacoustic music works and sound installations that have been performed at prestigious events and venues including the Ultima Contemporary Music Festival, Acousma GRM-Paris, Only Connect Festival, deciBel Festival-Latvia, ZKM-Karlsruhe, CCRMA-Stanford, KlangFest-Liechtenstein, Lydgalleriet-Bergen, MetaMorf-Trondheim, Henie Onstad Art Center, Sound/Image Symposium-UK, Jauna Muzika 2023-Lithuania, Kunstnernes Hus, and more.
Thanks to the fantastic additional musicians:
Brynjar Kolbergsrud, trumpet
Anne Marit Harbek, trumpet
Benjamin Setsaas, horn
Abel Perez Armas, horn
Thomas Gimse, horn
Erlend Tynning Larsen, horn
Nicolai Heuer, horn
Marie Nøkleby Hanssen, trombone
Runa Eid Hermansen, trombone
Halvor Ovenstrøm, bass trombone Producer, Bjørnar Habbestad
Technician, Audun Strype And LAWO Classics.