Rotating annually around the Nordic countries, this year Helsinki plays host to one of the world’s longest continuously running music festivals. Nordic Music Days 2013 presents the richest offering of contemporary Nordic music in all its diverse forms for five days beginning October 15.
The Tapiola Sinfonietta takes charge of the first of the sixteen concerts programmed with a concert featuring Steingrimur Rohloff’s Der erste Mensch. Written originally for Ensemble Modern in 2011, the Icelandic-German composer’s ‘experiment with “dirty sounds” and “musical uncleanliness”’ on one hand sees a quite free use of electronic sounds where whilst on the other the performers’ physical abilities often pushed to the point of the theatrical.
Later in the same evening a second concert offers Rune Glerup’s work for cello and electronics, Destruct[urat]ion #4, where after beginning with a pre-existing piece the composer reworked the old material by using the abstract painting technique of Jackson Pollock as something of a compositional ‘prism’.
On Wednesday 16 October, members of the Uusinta Chamber Ensemble present Simon Christensen’s Octet. Written just last year, the work displays exquisitely the one time rock drummer’s revelry in polyrhythms. Yet, a mere construction of superimposed figures this is not; Christensen is acutely attentive to the stratums’ microtonal level, going to affect the nature of the foreground from the most miniscule detail up.
Broadcast live on Finnish radio, on Friday October 18 the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra perform Simon Steen-Andersen’s work of 2010, Double Up. A work of duality and distortion, this year’s recipient of the Carl Nielsen Prize musically interprets the range between the supposed certainty of the ‘double up’ in the casino or stock market and the ‘drunken and sloppy’ of a bar’s happy hour.
To conclude this penultimate day of the festival, at 10pm Jexper Holmen’s work for clarinet, string trio and analogue ring-modulator Marula, originally commissioned by the Huddersfield Contemporary Music festival for the London Sinfonietta, receives a performance by defunensemble.