ORDER del I for flute and percussion is a large scale project initiated by Esaias Järnegard, Richard Craig and Pontus Langendorf (rùin). What follows is a brief introduction of the work, and excerpts of the concert are appended below. As yet, it is the largest project I have undertaken, which looks likely to continue into several other works. The musical excerpts are quite brief in comparison to the length of the work (circa 30 minutes), but they offer an insight into the writing and immediacy of the music.
It was Pontus Langendorf (now a member of KROUMATA) who came across Järnegard and commissioned a solo percussion work “UTTAL”. The latter was premiered in CAPITOL, February, 2009, under the auspices of Samtida Musik alongside works by Barrett and Sköld, and it was clear then that the somewhat brutal (in the sense of economy of means and resources) UTTAL was the gestation of a language that Pontus and I would engage with and extend, thus it was decided that we would collaborate on a duo work.
Over the weeks after the concert, an author by the name of Lars Norén (pictured above) became a focus of this new work. As a stranger to Swedish literature, the enigmatic ( obstinate?), nature of Lorén and his work was certainly something that I felt drawn to, more so since it was the first meeting of Swedish culture which seemed to resonate, or had in some way a synergy in what I wanted to achieve in my own work.
The dialogue during the preliminary development, which was from around March until July 2009, was mainly concerned with texts in Swedish and the collection of works under the title “ORDER” by Norén. The architecture and reduced style of Norén in ORDER was to be the binding material, as well as our reactions/perceptions of Norén’s prose. From a perspective of an foreigner who had taken Swedish as his working language, it proved difficult to share the meanings and rhythms that are inherent in poetry that mother tongue speakers would detect. In the end, it was in fact the disconnection and alienation which was already inherent in the texts which eventually yielded meaning and purpose, in tandem with the rhythmically terse poems. I learned anew, or uncovered a language within a language, which one can apply to the unfolding of ORDER the duo and the syntax it forces the listener to absorb during the 30mins. Norén’s deprivation of the familiar and the monolithic, stélé-like texts which proliferate the pages of ORDER offer a path, albeit an unknown one. One could say that my separation, my remoteness to the language, was the catalyst to understanding the import of ORDER the duo, and the resultant instrumental writing.
The first rehearsals of ORDER took place on Öland, August 2009: a thin strip of land, off the southern east coast of Sweden, in a small cottage that had just been renovated. The solemn stone grey of the new plaster of the room was a propitious beginning for the piece and undoubtedly an influence on the eventual staging of the premiere, notwithstanding the bleached limestone and barren nature of the coastline facing out to the Baltic. The most enduring recollection of that time is the silence, or muteness of the island- a weight that intensified the scraping and whistling of ORDER del 1.
Sonically, the limitations which are imposed upon the palette of sounds are in themselves a feat if one thinks of the various possibilities and temptations that a composer faces when writing for flute. The question is then, why is there such a rigorous, almost maniacal control over sonority in both instruments? As the performer my answer would be that ORDER erodes away any hope and security of a familiar language or signpost en route; instead there is a conscious forging of a new syntax: focused, sharp and uncompromising. The musicians are left to carve away the structures both physically and mentally, etching a shape with incessant tapping gestures – one could say that it was akin to an excavation or uncovering of an archaeological find; the form of which became encrusted and contorted over time, slowly being returned to something resembling the original object.