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Sigurd Fischer Olsen - Mold, piano trio (2018)
(b. Tromsø, August 11th 1976)
First Performance: Tårnsalen, Bergen March 11th 2018
Valen Trio: Einar Røttingen, Ricardo Odriozola, John Ehde
Composer, music teacher and violist.
He studied composition with Morten Eide Pedersen at the Grieg Academy in Bergen and with Mathias Spahlinger at the Hochschule fur Musik Freiburg, Germany. Compositions include orchestral works, chamber music, solo works, electronic works and works for the stage. Fischer Olsen's music has been performed by ensembles such as the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, BIT-20 Ensemble, Terjungensemble, ICE Ensemble (U.S.A.), Ensemble Risognanze (Italy), Quatuor Bozzini (Canada) and solo performers including Sofia Jernberg, Ricardo Odriozola, Alwynne Pritchard, Knut Christian Janson, Erlend Aagaard-Nilsen and more.
He is a member of the stage art company Ursus Produksjoner, which works in the intersection between music, performing arts and opera. Ursus Produksjoner have made three full scale operas and staged
the opera Lohengrin by S.Sciarrino in Bergen in 2013. Lohengrin later toured in Scandinavia and was featured at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.
Fischer Olsen was nominated to the national Edward Prize in 2017 for his piece Sserenades for the BIT-20 ensemble and solo vocalist Sofia Jernberg. The same piece was also one of the recommended works at the International Rostrum of Composers in 2018.
He has taught composition, music history and music theory at the Grieg Academy in Bergen. He is currently the artistic leader at the Avgarde concert series in the same city.
About Mold Fischer Olsen writes:
The piece explores the tactility between musicians and their actions on their instruments, highlighting sounds that are sometimes heard in performance although normally not written in the score. These might be a loud tap of the finger on the fingerboard of a violin when a virtuoso is playing Paganini, or a barely audible pedal-lift from the pianist in the middle of a concert; sounds that accentuate the physicality and energy in the performance and are thus an important part of the expression.
In this piece the musicians' different ways of touching their instrument are central and one can therefore often see the performers act on their instruments as if playing intensely, but with resulting sounds that may be hardly audible. In other parts it might be much heavier and almost violent.
The concept of tactility is also present in "stolen" material, namely quotes from Clara Schumann's Trio in G minor op.17 and Erich Korngold's Trio in D major. These quotes are brought into the piece in an abstract way as a shadow from the past and as a glance back
to the glory days of the piano trio in the Romantic era. They sometimes pop up as a sudden clarity among the many abstract sounds, but they also appear underneath them, as a secret undercurrent. Modern ways of "playing" music are also present in the 2nd movement Guitar Heroes where some of the musical actions can resemble the popular (but now retro) video game.
The piece was written originally for Valen Trio, and premiered at the Borealis Festival in Bergen, Norway in 2018.
Mold is a fascinating and highly enjoyable piece to perform. It can be said to be - for the most part - the musical equivalent of the negative of a photograph. It throws a spotlight on all the sounds that, traditionally, are not intrinsic to the music and which one may even try to avoid. A master musician endeavours to spend as little effort as possible in performance. Mold, on the other hand, requires that a lot of visible effort be used with, mostly, very little audible result. It is a highly visual piece that only comes into its own in live performance. Ironically, the work's premiere was broadcast on radio. It must
have perplexed the listeners, since the work contains large spans of time with very little sound at all. In watching the performance one may get the sense of an ensemble that has been sent to music Purgatory, in order to expiate its past sins before moving on to a less restrictive realm. There is a sense of poignancy in watching the musicians make gestures that result in, at best, the feeblest of sounds. It is as if one is watching a television set with very bad reception or, at times, the sound turned completely off. In the context of tappings, pitchless strummings, silent chords and the like, the quotations from the Romantic repertoire appear as fossilized remnants from a very remote past precariously preserved in a glass cabinet. We hear skeletal snippets from Clara Schumann and incongruous, completely out of context blurts and outbursts from the hyper Romantic world of the 12 year old Korngold. It is both liberating and bittersweet to watch the pianist, who has made very little impression in the first three movements, bent over his instrument insistently repeating a cluster with both arms in the fourth movement "Mani Profane". As for the strings, the very few occasions in which they are allowed to play a semblance of a melody, they are asked to do so in a constipated way, with plenty of distortion or with circular bowing. The lovely and tender final movement, "Molding sserenade" acts as a catharsis of sorts.
Watching the available YouTube video of the first performance will dispel any doubts that the score may present to the performers.
Mold is work that presupposes an open mind, a sense of humour and a total lack of self-importance from the players. It is a strangely beautiful and cleansing work, but it needs a special setting in order to do its magic on an equally open-minded audience.
Ricardo Odriozola, Bergen May 28th 2023
GERMAN PREFACE NOT AVAILABLE...
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