Rune Glerup on His New Piece

On the 14th of March Rune Glerup's “Clarinet Quintet - Still leaning toward this Machine” was successfully premiered in France. We've asked him a few questions about the piece

The piece is electroacoustic. Can you tell us a little bit about the role of the electronics?

The electronics are quite discrete, like a kind of orchestration. You hear it often although you think that you don't. Like a large chord in an orchestra: you're not necessarily aware of every single playing instrument. Instead, the sonority comes from the sum of the chosen instruments.

In addition to that I've worked on making the electronics into a kind of “chamber electronics” to go along with the quintet. There's no big speaker setup. Instead I use the instruments as speakers by mounting transducers (which are normally the elements used to create vibrations and thus produce sound) on them. As a result, the electronic sound is subjected to some of the same limits as the acoustic instruments and this electronic sound comes close to the acoustic world of chamber music. 

What is implied in the title “Clarinet Quintet - Still leaning toward this Machine”?

The title is, like many other elements in the piece, a reference. My quintet is a bit atypical for my normal style of writing in as much as it's filled with references to musical experiences that have been important to me. The most obvious is a quote from Boulez’ Second Piano Sonata, which is transformed into my own material, but there are others as well. Among these are Stravinsky, Beethoven, Lachenmann and especially Mozart and Brahms who both wrote emblematic clarinet quintets.

Non-musical references are also apparent although in a less direct manner: Beckett (for the absurdity and the unpleasant continous maelstrom of the voice), Mladen Dollar (for his strict way of thinking about the voice), Charles Bukowski (whose poem the title is paraphrasing), and many others.

In spite of the many references I don't see the piece as a postmodern collage of all these inspirations, but as an homage to a number of important experiences that have contributed to the formation of my own voice with which the piece is written.


“Clarinet Quintet - Still leaning toward this Machine” will be performed later this year in Paris and at Hindsgavl Festival in Denmark.

In the coming period of time Rune will be working on a new piece to be premiered by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2016 and a commission by the French Ensemble Intercontemporain for a version for piano and small orchestra of his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. The premiere of this piece will be in the season 2016/1017.