EDGAR VARÈSE (1885-1965)
Edgar Varese was born in Paris in 1885. He studied with d'indy, Roussel and Widor—romantic composers whose names hardly indicate the significance Varese would have for the truly new music. But this development did not begin until he was in his thirties, and settled in New York. It is said that the music rack on his piano expanded to become a drafting board, with diagrams and drawings. Although there was a metronome on his desk, the dominating objects were more likely to be the sort of thing to be found in an engineer's office. Two paintings by Miró hung on the wall of his study. He was thought to be working in technical research, and neither his friendly attitude nor his good-naturedness revealed that he was the revolutionary figure of the new music.
And perhaps he wasn't! He said himself that he was only following the path that he found natural. "I do not write experimental music. My experiment is done before I make the music. Afterwards it is the listener who must experiment." In any case, the music he introduced was like nothing else. Each new work, and there were not many, opened the door to a well-planned universe.
Ionisation was begun in 1929 and finally dated November 13. 1931. An ensemble of 13 musicians utilize a total of 37 percussion instruments, including two sirens, glockenspiel, celesta and piano. The three latter instruments are the only ones that can produce specific notes and they are all saved until the final apotheosis of bells. The instruments are divided into different sound groups. All of them cover the register from base to treble, and each part of the work has its own instrumental combination. Rhythm and timbre are the main elements of the composition, and every significant change in timbre also brings about a change in form. Varese has not only wanted to display his pioneering discoveries, he has also made these a part of his artistic means of expression to such a great extent that the music develops organically from the first beat to the last. For half a century, Ionisation has had the ability to capture the listener. The work is one of the founding masterpieces of our time—legendary and style-forming.
SVEN-DAVID SANDSTRÖM (1942)
Sandström was born in 1942 in Borensberg. He studied art history, musicology and, later, composition with Ingvar Lidholm at the State Academy of Music in Stockholm, he also studied with György Ligeti and Per Nörgaard. He was Lidholm's assistant at the composition class until 1974, after which time he has worked as a composer.
For a short time he was a teacher in improvisation at the National College of Music Drama in Stockholm, and since 1981 he has been a teacher of composition and improvisation at the State Academy of Music in Stockholm. In 1986 he was appointed professor of composition there. Among the awards that he has received are the Christ Johnson Music Fund Prize (1974) and the Nordic Council Prize (1984).
Sven-David Sandström has made the following comment on his new work, "Chained":
"The piece was composed especially for this occasion, when a large group of percussionists and pianists were to appear together in an unusual concert performance. The 'chaining' of the title is to be considered in purely musical and rhythmical terms, and it has no ideological or other connection. The title referes to a sort of musical linking in which the complex structure is forced into a locked rhythm. That is the basic ideal. Then suddenly a door opens upon something bright and positive. In the beginning the pianos have lyrical sections, but they are gradually forced into the rhythmic circles of the percussion. By the end of the 25-minute piece they are all working together, with respect to both rhythm and ideas. The low-frequency percussion instruments are placed in the center of a semi-circle containing the remaining percussionists. The rhythms and figures spread like waves through the group in a perceivable yet irregular pattern. The piece is not an experiment. The pianos form a lyrical pole to the rhythmic percussion. The treatment of the pianos is decidely virtuoso. The music is clearly extrovert—music to be experienced. It is not 'easy listening', but has lots of action."
GEORGE ANTHEIL (1900-1959)
Before George Antheil was 25 years old. he was internationally known as the most radical representative of American music. At his death he had written not only six symphonies, three operas, several ballets, orchestral works, and piano and chamber music with time his music became more and more conservative), but he had also edited a column for the lovelorn, invented and patented a submarine torpedo, and had been made an honorable member of the Paris police force after his studies of gland disturbances in criminals.
At the age of 22 he began a European tour. His program included Bach, Beethoven and Chopin—but also his own shocking piano works, Airplane Sonata, Death of the Machines, Sonata Sauvage and Mechanisms, which revealed his futuristic ideas, mechanical rhythms, rich harmonies, violent dynamics and experimental form. These ideas were to be developed and attain their completion in Ballet mécanique.
When he arrived in Paris in 1923, he was hailed as the leading modern composer. The highlight of his stay was the premiere of a ballet which was originally called Message to Mars and was intended loran abstract film by his friend Fernand Léger. The performance in 1925, like that at Carnegie Hall in 1927, was a magnificent scandal. Under the name of Ballet mécanique it became one of those works which are constantly being talked about, but rarely performed.
Later in life, the composer wrote this about his ballet: To those who might wish to understand the intentions and aestetics of Ballet mécanique from my point of view, the most important thing I think I can say about it is that it is somewhat like modern architecture . . . like a modern house, or skyscraper in which ... materials for surfacing, building, are used which had previously never been used before. . .Ballet mécanique is an approach to a new aestetic in music. If one has in mind to understand it, let him listen with new ears, as he must look at a piece of modern architecture with new eyes. Rhythmically, aestetically, materially and constructively it is, I feel, aligned with our modern life. When one considers when it was written—1924—I believe it may also have a bit of prophecy in its pages."
ANDERS LOGUIN (1954-)
Loguin was educated at the College of Music in Stockholm, taking the percussion soloist course.
He has also had orchestral training in Sweden and England, and has studied conducting in the United States. He has worked as a percussionist with the Stockholm Philharmonic, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Oslo Philharmonic. He is a lecturer and the head teacher of percussion at the College of Music in Stockholm. Anders Loguin has been a member of Kroumata since it was formed in 1978, and has participated in a number of recordings for radio, television and gramophone, both as a solo and chamber musician, and as an orchestra member. He has conducted the Uppsala Chamber Orchestra, the Stockholm Wind Symphony, various ensembles at the College of Music, and a number of Kroumata productions.
"THE WORLD'S BEST PERCUSSIONISTS!" was the San Francisco Chronicle's enthusiastic verdict after hearing Kroumata. And the remarkable fact is that these five Stockholm percussion players are taking the world by storm. First Europe and the USA, and now Japan, where Kroumata will be performing in November (1987) together with Keiko Abe, one of the world's finest marimba players.
Kroumata was formed in 1978 for the purpose of presenting percussion music in the form of chamber music and solo playing, but also with the intention of collaborating with other musicians, singers, dancers and soon. Among other things, this has resulted in exciting and variable concert programmes and has encouraged Scandinavian and international composers to write new works expressly for Kroumata. The group has been able since 1981 to work full time, with the Regional Music organisation as its employer—a unique arrangement, not only for Scandinavia but internationally as well. Kroumata has made two LPs, the first of which was awarded the 1984 Swedish Phonogram Prize. The following year the newspaper Expressen nominated the group for its Spelmannen music award. In February this year (1987) Kroumata toured East Germany, and was awarded the Critics' Prize for its performance at the Music Biennial in Berlin.
- THE PIANISTS from left): Richard Pilat, Roland Pöntinen, Carl-Axel Dominique, (cond./dir.:) Anders Loguin, Staffan Scheja. (Foto: Claes Jansson).
- THE KROUMATA PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE from left): Leif Karlsson, Ian Hellgren, Anders Holdar, Ingvar Hallgren, Anders Loguin. (Foto: Per B. Adolphson).
- Edgard Varèse: Ionisation
- Sven-David Sandström: Chained
- George Antheil: Ballet Mécanique
Other recordings with the Kroumata Percussion Ensemble:
- Kroumata Percussion Ensemble
- Kroumata Percussion Ensemble & Manuela Wiesler
- Cage / Katzer / Strindberg / Sandstrom: Music For Percussion
- Sotto Il Segno Del Sole
- Kroumata Percussion Ensemble: Cage, Cowell, Lundquist, & Taira
- Works by Nishimura Miyoshi Takemitsu Matsushita
- Xenakis: Pléiades / Psappha
- Sotto Il Segno Del Sole
- Gubaidulina: Silenzio/De profundis/Et exspecto/In Erwartung
- Kroumata Percussion Ensemble: Encores
- Stonewave for 6 percussionists: I. -. II. -. III. -.
- Works for Percussion by The Kroumata Percussion Ensemble
- Kroumata & Rascher
- Farberman: Concerto for Jazz Drummer; Shchedrin: Carmen Suite