Original Language: Norwegisch
Location: Lindemansalen Oslo / Norway
At the moment I am working on an opera, Melancholia, in response to a commission from the Paris Opéra. The libretto is by Jon Fosse, and the protagonist the Norwegian painter Lars Hertervig (1830-1902). The music of these Hertevig Studies has no direct connection with the opera, but derives rather from my explorations of the personality and work of this fascinating painter.
The basis for the text consists of titles of his works, which are sung/spoken/whispered in Norwegian. These titles are ranged one after the other as isolated speech events, in such a way that no connections emerge, no story is narrated.
Hertervig painted landscapes, but in these landscapes one does not find – as one does with several of his artistic colleagues – idyllic representations of nature (and certainly none of those notorious patriotic representations of people ‘wedded to the soil’ at work – or relaxing from their labours). Instead these landscapes depict mystical, spiritual, often oppressively sinister, threatening worlds. It is a kind of happy coincidence that these mystical worlds mapped exactly onto the reality of those natural worlds which Hertervig found in the forests, lakes, rocks and fjords around him.
At the end only the word Landskap (‘landscape’) is sung, repeated maniacally like a scream.
These sung titles are expanded by means of passages where the treatment of the voices is determined by exclusively musical considerations, where the timbre of the vowels and consonants sung is utilised in such a way that no semantically determined significance, no meaning or content can emerge.
The piece was written for the ensemble Nordic Voices, and the specific possibilities they offer – in particular thanks to their involvement with the traditional vocal techniques of Norwegian folk music and their skill in overtone singing – have been exploited compositionally here.
The Hertervig Studies were written in 2006 to a commission from the Ultima Festival in connection with the ‘Crescentials’ project directed by Lasse Thoressen.
© Georg Friedrich Haas