Miniature Suite for blåsetrio (for brass trio) (first print / score and parts)
(b. Mosterhamn [Bømlo], 16 January 1961 – d. Bergen, 24 December 2006)
Miniature Suite for blåsetrio
(for brass trio) (1981)
Kenneth Sivertsen was arguably the most staggering musical talent to emerge from Norway at the tail end of the 20th century. Born in the island of Bømlo (south of Bergen) he learned to play the guitar at a very young age, soon forming a pop band with two of his older siblings and becoming very active in the local music scene. He took composition lessons from Magnar Åm (b. 1952) for a year and guitar lessons from Arild Hansson for a short period. Other than this Sivertsen was essentially self-taught. He wrote his first symphony at the age of twenty. At twenty five he was the youngest Norwegian to be accepted into the Norwegian Composers’ Union. His work For Ope Hav was chosen to represent Norway in the 1986 edition of Nordic Music Days in Iceland.
Sivertsen was equally active as a composer and performer. He was a world class guitarist and an able singer and pianist. Being of a restless and inquisitive nature he worked and excelled in many different musical genres: contemporary classical music, popular song, jazz and rock. He wrote two symphonies, numerous chamber works, many songs, an oratorio, a trumpet concerto, ballet music and a Requiem, besides countless arrangements. The recordings he left behind attest to his baffling versatility. These include several CDs of songs in popular style, an album of guitar compositions, ballet music, religious songs, chamber music and three acclaimed jazz albums in which he played with some of the world’s finest jazz musicians at the time.
Kenneth Sivertsen became a very public figure in Norway, particularly from the early 1990s. Besides his musical ability, he possessed an uncanny comical talent. The latter was exploited relentlessly by the media and made him a darling of the entertainment circuit in Norway for many years. The chaos of life of the road eventually took its toll on Sivertsen’s health. After several years of intermittent illness he died on Christmas Eve 2006.
Sivertsen’s music defies categorization. Surprising and unpredictable as life itself, it often changes atmosphere and style radically, even within the same composition. Sivertsen was a master at creating moods that draw the listener close to the music. He wrote some of the most beautiful and gripping music ever to come from a Norwegian composer.
About this edition
Miniature Suite for blåsetrio (1981)
Original score available from the Norwegian National Library (www.mic.no)
Not to be confused with a later Miniature Suite from 1997.
Sivertsen calls this early work “Miniature Suite for Blåsetrio” (Miniature Suite for Wind Trio). The title can be misleading, since this small work is written for a brass trio: B flat Trumpet, Horn in F and Trombone. The present edition adopts, therefore, the heading “messing trio” (brass trio) instead. The trombone part has many low notes, which makes the instrument designation “bass trombone” appropriate.
This edition renders the original score with hardly any changes worth mentioning:
– A few enharmonic spellings and cautionary accidentals here and there.
– “Flutter” instead of “flatter” on measure 8 of Movement 1.
– In movement 3. (m. 5) the low trombone f A with a cresc./dim. hairpin can prove challenging for all but those endowed with exceptional lung capacity. Thus an optional division of the note is suggested in the score in the form of a dotted slur.
– Rhythmical notation of the trombone glissando on m. 7 of Movement 4 changed to eighth-note tied to a half-note (the opposite is the case in the handwritten score).
I consider that because of the miniaturist nature and rhythmic fluidity of these pieces, it makes sense to play them from the score. All the same, individual parts have been made for this edition, should eventual performers prefer to play the work in that manner.
I have, likewise, decided to leave the movement names in Norwegian (“Sats” rather than “movement”) as well as the word “sordin” (m. 4 in Movement 1.). I have only changed the abbreviated instruction “banka på munnstk.” for its English (unabbreviated) equivalent “strike the mouthpiece” on the final measure of Movement 1.
The score gives June 1981 as the work’s time of completion. There is no evidence of this suite having been performed during its composer’s lifetime or in the years immediately after his death. What must be considered the first public performance of the work occurred, thus, on December 11th 2016 at the Bømlo Kulturhus during a concert given by students from Bergen’s Grieg Academy as a tribute to Sivertsen ten years after his passing. The performers were Sindre Bowitz Larsen (trumpet), Sunniva Torskangerpoll (horn) and Endre Nygård (trombone).
This is music of a very serious character. Written in a free tonal polyphonic language, typical for Sivertsen, it packs a lot of drama in the scant four minutes it takes to perform it. From the bizarre trumpet solo of the opening movement to the short but devastating climax near the end, this is deeply felt music that stems from the composer’s inner life and which demands attention.
Ricardo Odriozola, 6 July 2017