Hans Abrahamsen is one of the most prolific modern-day Nordic composers. His music often has a soft and low-key expression, where memories and repetitions of music history are set against a more modern tonal language.

Into the Music at 18.30, with  Hans Abrahamsen.

One of Abrahamsen’s greatest works is Nacht und Trompeten from 1981, and this three-movement orchestral work commemorates pieces of earlier music. In the beginning, the past and the present are clearly separated, but eventually the music of the past competes with trumpet signals, romantic music and Stravinsky’s neoclassicism, with the present minimalism and modernism.

Abrahamsen is very conscious of traditionality, which eventually made it difficult for him to compose, unaffected by his great role models. This led to a longer pause, where he worked or reworked others’ works. An example is Commotio by Carl Nielsen from 1930-31, which is a majestic concert piece for the organ and a magnificent modern homage to the baroque preludium and fuge. Abrahamsen’s transcription of Commotio from 2012 is rather an interpretation where Abrahamsen emphasizes the modern sides of Carl Nielsen’s late style with his own composition technique.

Another example is Claude Debussy’s Children’s Corner from 1905. Debussy wrote six piano pieces dedicated to his daughter, inspired by her toys and life. The popular piano pieces were orchestrated in 1911. Abrahamsen prepared a new edition 100 years later and his great ability as an instrumentator is prominently shown here in Debussy’s colourful music.

The left hand piano concert, Left, Alone, from 2015, has six smaller movements and is for piano, featuring the left hand, and orchestra. The work belongs to Abrahamsen’s final composition phase. The composer stated that the concert was not written for a pianist with only one hand, but rather, was written by a composer who could only play with his left hand (Abrahamsen was born with reduced mobility in the right hand). The title Left, alone does not just refer to the left hand alone, but also has other references. The work has been well received by critics who have characterized the work as extraordinary, strong, soft, brilliant and magical as new snow.

Christian Eggen, conductor
Tamara Stefanovich, piano

Abrahamsen: Nacht und Trompeten
Nielsen / arr. Abrahamsen: Commmotio
Debussy / arr. Abrahamsen: Children’s corner
Abrahamsen: Left, alone