Steingrímur Rohloff's new work Schumann-Fragmente is included in Copenhagen Phil's concert series, Afgørende øjeblikke / Decisive Moments, telling the story of Schumann in a staged concert performance.
We asked the composer a few questions about the work.
How would you describe the work, Schumann Fragmente?
"Decisive Moments # 2" is an evening dedicated to Schumann's life, and I think they asked me to contribute to it because I work with music theatre. Copenhagen Phil's concert series uses theatrical and cross-aesthetic elements as dramaturgical tools to enrich classical concert experiences. I also use both elements in my own works.
Since my orchestral work Schumann-Fragmente represents Schumann's decay but also is the final piece of this concert, my premise was: "Here anything can happen…" And then I worked on a spatialization of the orchestra. Some musicians change positions during the concert. I also use electronic sounds. And I let the baritone Johannes Held sing a duet with himself via electronic sounds. A familiar piano piece by Schumann can also be heard in the work, accompanied by a subtle electronic sound, and joined by a series of instrumentalists, playing from the balconies. The orchestra welcomed all these ideas and I am very grateful for their openness.
How did you work with the reference to Schumann?
My points of departure are two of Heinrich Heine's texts that Schumann also uses. I have processed them and made them into new orchestral songs. This creates a meeting between the universe of a romantic text and contemporary musical language. Throughout the work, Schumann-Fragmente is infused with quotes from Schumann's lieder and from his 2nd symphony which will also be played the same evening.
You have written quite a few orchestral works in a relatively short time - Do your works relate to each other or influence each other?
It is fantastic to be challenged so much in these years by various Danish orchestras, and I am very grateful for these commissions right now in the time of the corona lockdowns. The two most recent orchestral works have certainly influenced each other. Nevertheless, there is always something new and experimental at stake for me in each new work. The special thing about Schumann-Fragmente is that it was both the orchestra's and my own wish to expand the framework of the classical concert form.
What do you hope the audience takes away from experiencing Schumann-Fragmente?
I hope the audience thinks about Schumann's life. Transience may… And that they will be touched. At the same time, I hope that the combination of Schumann's works with a completely newly composed work by a contemporary composer can create an experience of the possibilities of the genre. These two factors - the classical and the modern merge in Schumann-Fragmente. And of course, I also hope that we can surprise the audience through music, acting and staging.
The concert is performed on 4 and 5 March in Copenhagen.
The concert is created in collaboration between Copenhagen Phil and Third Ear Podcast together with director Rune David Grue and with scenography by Dark Matters.
Find more information about the concert here >>