Reviews - Rolf Wallin [ Composer ]


Reviews For Realismos mágicos

The glory of the evening was the world premiere of a piece for marimba by Rolf Wallin. Realismos Mágicos (11 short stories) was a co-commission by Wigmore Hall with the Bergen Festival and Scotland’s Sound Festival. It wasn’t the stories of Gabriel García Márquez that inspired the Norwegian composer, but their titles alone. They are, indeed, irresistible. Eyes of a Blue Dog drew forth crystals of sound-cluster, flashing from the beaters as they twirled tight and close. A tiny, fleeting heat-haze of harmony for Miss Forbes’s Summer of Happiness; repeated notes reverberating full fathom five for T he Handsomest Drowned Man in the World; and a thrumming, poised for lift-off, for A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.

This marvellous new addition to the repertoire….

Reviews For Manyworlds

On the Manyworlds 3D premiere: In Manyworlds Boya Bøckman offers planet-like circles and barren landscapes. ”This is how the world is”, the video tells us. This is how the world is that we cannot see, with distances we cannot fathom. Skeleton structures and tubes meander infinitely. We don’t know exactly what we are experiencing; what could be the surface of an unknown planet could also be the skin of a small animal. The orchestra sparkled in the meeting with Rolf Wallin’s effective material. Wallin knows the medium and conjures the structures: sometimes with intense pulsation, sometimes in thundering blocks of sound with military tight percussion. Then gliding in melodic movements, in the context they sounded weightless.   With Manyworlds Rolf Wallin confirms his position as Norway's leading contemporary composer. Well formed and sometimes cool sounds in a surprising course of events shows a musical dramaturg in top form. Here everything was organically connected in a well-wrought sound sculpture, for the entire half hour's duration – from a deep primeval plane the orchestral sound stretched, warped and folded in ever new facets, but never bombastic, never heavy. Rolf Wallin's orchestral craft is of world class. At the same time he is unique in his non-pompous, almost coolly calculating mode of expression, like in the long mid section where transparent string sounds are allowed to lie and shimmer statically for a radically long time. But he does engage, as one of the few confident dramaturgs of Norwegian contemporary music, something the intense and surprisingly sudden ending bore witness of. The music comes to silence in this world, but definitively carries on in my head. 

Reviews For Trumpet Concerto

"There was plenty to keep the ear busy...a Trumpet Concerto by the gifted Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin...dizzyingly fast repeated notes and quick-changing colours." "The concerto is a striking, single-movement piece, clearly laid out, yet still mysterious. ...a menacing climax in the orchestra is blown away by the soloist in a flurry of piccolo-trumpet virtuosity. The ideas seem more crisply defined, their trajectory more coherent." "...a weighty piece mystical in content, patiently structured, and assiduously avoiding the military imagery associated with the solo instrument. Hakan Hardenberger was the impeccable soloist, his virtuosity so demurely devoted to the demands of the music..."

Reviews For Act (CD)

"Nettopp i dette krysningspunktet, mellom det gjenkjennelige og det foranderlige, ligger en annen av nøklene til Wallins suksess. Han taler til de lærde gjennom den formidable orkestreringen som han bruker til stadig variasjon, samtidig som materialet er tilstrekkelig gjenkjennelig for at hvermannsen ikke skal miste orienteringen. Han utfordrer samtidig som han stadig er sanselig."

"I 'Act' trekker han dette til det ytterste. Verket er noe av det mest fysiske jeg har hørt, og det ender i en rå og brutal orgasme, i et skrik, i den fullstendige tøylesløsheten. Det er et verk man kan høre gjentatte ganger. Slik erotikken er bygget på en relasjon, er også 'Act' kompleks og viker tilstrekkelig fra en kategorisk forståelse til å bli stadig forskjellig. Det er sikkert flere enn meg som ønsker å høre slutten om og om igjen, men å berøve utløsningen forspillet er å gjøre den fattigslig, det er å gjøre den pornografisk."

"Exactly in this meeting between the recognizable and the changing lies another keys to Wallin's success. He speaks to the learned through the formidable orchestration with which he makes constant variation, while at the same time the material is recognizable enough that 'the man in the street' don't get lost. He challenges while at the same time being sensual."

"In Act he draws this to the limit. The work is among the most physical I have heard, and it ends in a raw and brutal orgasm, in a scream, in total lack of restriction. It is a work one can hear time and again. Like eroticism is built on a relation, Act is equally complex and differs enough from a categorical understanding to be incessantly changing. Surely, it can't be only me who wants to repeatedly relisten the ending, but to bereave the orgasm the foreplay is to belittle it, to make it pornographic." "Concert-wise, Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducting the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in a multi-purpose venue that doubles as a gymnasium and concert hall may not to appear to have the makings of musical legend but the final concert of the Nordland Music Festival in Northern Norway this summer transcended its surroundings. Composer-in-residence Rolf Wallin's orchestral tourde force Act gave the Oslo band a chance to flex their collective muscle and gave the Bodø Spectrum the kind of acoustic onslaught it's not likely to receive agan any time soon. The capacity crowd loved it and so did I. Keep an eye for the studio recording on Ondine (it may be worth taking a home and contents insurance policy first." "The Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin is increasingly gaining inernational recognition, and this disc is likely to win him further admirers. The percussion concerto Das war schön! refuses to conform to the genre's stereotype of superficially impressive crashing and banging. This Mozart tribute combines a genial charm, with flair and a sometimes impish sense of humour"

"(...) A more classic approach to percussion is taken in Tides, for six percussionists and orchestra. The opening is essentially a study on cymbals, which might seem like an arid prospect without Wallin's sense of pace, allied to, and inspired by the superlative skills of the Kroumata Percussion Ensembe. Nonetheless, it is the orchestral writing that impresses, even if Wallin professes that this comes out of the solo parts. This impression is reinforced by Act, which starts in headlong fashion before cranking up the pace and tension. It is a star that burns briefly, but brightly, and, like all the works on this disc, is given an utterly committed and convincing performance." "Powerful confirmation of a distinctive voice in Norwegian music..."

"(...) Wallin is a figure at home across a range of genres and who also deploys complex procedures in the writing of music with a visceral immediacy. How else to explain Act (2003) - a 10-minute "study" which amply demonstrates the orchestra's potential both as individuals capable of great expressive subtlety and as a collective capable of generating an irresistible momentum."

"(...) Das war schön! (2006) pays tribute to Mozart with a refreshing lack of reverence, drawing on birdsong, freemasonry and parental innuendo in a five-movement work of deft irony and understated virtuosity (would that most percussion concertos evinced much of either). Tides (1998) avoids the anecdotal, integrating its six percussionists into the very fabric of a discourse that unfolds over three large "tides" of musical activity; the orchestra emerging imperceptibly from the "engine room" of this sextet and interlocking with it in an intensifying process of tension and release."

"Performances are as committed as this exhilarating music requires (...) Wallin himself is hardly likely to worry over being the next "big thing", but this disc powerfully confirms his stature."

Reviews For Strange News

"...a compassionate and totally involving creation based on footage of child soldiers in DR Congo."

"Rolf Wallin's Strange News, Josse De Pauw directing the visual and textual elements, could so easily have wallowed in voyeuristic sensationalism, but it avoided that trap."

"Instead its graphic, gripping musical commentary created a War Requiem for the modern day, one which ..... held the audience stunned - until the standing ovation at the end."

"The commitment of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group players under Pierre-André Valade's clear, decisive conducting was an obvious factor in the success of this Integra 2008 premiere, and George Alagiah generously gave his services as the appalled newscaster. But even more memorable was the performance of the young Ugandan actor Arthur Kisenyi, delivering a monologue of astonishing power and immediacy in this 35-minute work, and all from memory."

Reviews For Phonotope 1

"Dritter (un)erwarteter Held des diesjährigen Warschauer Herbsts war Rolf Wallin, dessen schwindelerregendes 'Phonotope I' (2000) für Streichquartett und Live-Elektronik Höhepunkt im Konzert des norwegischen Cikada-Streichquartetts war, das bewies, wie interessant und vielföltig man immer noch für diese vier Instrumente schreiben kann. Die Müglichkeiten der Klangverwandlung des Computers scheinen unbegrenzt und unerforscht, wobei die Komponisten Instrumente und Elektronik nicht für sich allein, sondern zusammen nutzen wollen."

"The third (un)expected hero of this year's Warsaw Autumn was Rolf Wallin, whose "vertigo-inducing" Phonotope 1 (2000) for string quartet and live electronics was the highlight of the Cikada String Quartet concert. It proves how interesting and manyfold it still is possible to write for these four instruments. The soundchanging possibilities of the Computer seem unlimited and unexplored, when the composers want to use instruments and electronics together rather than separately."

Reviews For Boyl

"Es beginnt mit geschmeidig gleitenen Saitengeräschen, so als wehe ein Nachtgespenst vorbei. Dann kracht Schlagzeug, lärmt Bläsertremolo in die Streichquartett-Unwirklichkeit, erst jäh und vereinzelt, bald immer öfter, um schliesslich als Sieger dazustehen. Nur nach Punkten. Die leise Töne lassen sich nicht unterdrücken, die schwingenden Klänge der Metallophons behalten das letzte Wort. "Boyl" heisst soviel wie Alchemistenbräu. Ein schelmischer Titel für die phantasievolle, übersichtlige, auch spannende Komposition, die man da von dem hierzulande noch unbekannten Rolf Wallin (geb. 1957) kennengelernt." Avanti! Cond.: Mikko Frank

"Neben Jukka Koskinens (...) "Ululation" bildete Rolf Wallins "Boyl" den kompositorischen Höhepunkt des musikalisch hochrangigen Abends. Seinen eigenen Anspruch, dass wirklich neue Musik so tue, als hätten die musikalischen Stile der Vergangenheit nicht existiert, löst Wallin hier trefflich ein. Die Einleitung des in zitternden Glissandi con sordino flirrenden Streichquartetts macht ein Drittel der Gesamtdauer des viertelstündigen "Boyl" aus und legt so den energetischen Grund für die wellenförmige Verdichtung und Entspannung des sich zwischen dunklen Bläserklängen und raschen Klavier- und Glockenspielfigurationen bewegenden Werkes. Lang wäre die Liste der Komponisten, die für einzelne Momente Vorbild gewesen sein mögen, - ihre Verschmelzung zu einem kohärenten ProzeÛ schafft tatsächlich unerhörtes Neues." Ensemble BIT 20 Cond.: Ingar Bergby

"The Norwegian Rolf Wallin has a vision: His Boyl is a breathtakingly exciting, magnificently imaginative fantasy around boiling, strong or soft, water or lava, realized with means of expression so daring and intense that one only can compare with Xenakis, and mould into a powerfully modelled archform." (Ground, Clarinet Concerto, Boyl)"There's a bewildering variety of young(ish) composers active in Norway these days,(.....) To my mind, the most impressive of the under-fifties is Rolf Wallin (b. 1957), whose music has an exhilarating charge of energy, Like several composers of his vintage who have sown their serial oats - Magnus Lindberg, Esa-Pekka Salonen and George Benjamin come to mind - Wallin blends the lessons learned from high modernism with a renewed appreciation of the directional power of 'classical' harmony. That gives him the best of both worlds: his textures bubble with furious activity, but the concerns of the moment do not preclude an over-arching sense of purpose."
"The ferocious cadenza for solo cello that kick-starts Ground for cello and strings (1997) is a gesture of unmistakeable confidence - here is a composer who knows exactly what he wants. Wallin's Clarinet Concerto, written a year earlier, won the Nordic Council's music prize a year later, and with good reason: along with Jouni Kaipainen's Carpe Diem, it is one of the finest Nordic clarinet concertos since Nielsen's. Wallin cross-cuts music of uneasy lyricism with explosions of skinhead energy, reflecting, he says, the clarinet's dual nature: it is equally at home in the silky domesticity of the Mozart concerto and the 'rough, charging masculinity of Balkan folk music'. It's the Dr Hyde character that finally conquers, as Wallin sweeps the listener off his feet in a thrilling bare-back gallop."

"Boyl (1995) owes its title - merely 'boil' in an early, pre-Johnsonian spelling - to a seventeenth-century alchemical text which talks of the repeated melting of base substances to produce gold; Wallin binds in a subtext with Jungian allusions to prycho-analysis. Shifting, edgy, superficial phrases in the strings are gradually answered by ever bolder gestures from winds and percussion as the orchestra are gradually wracked by increasingly forceful surges of violence until, after a display of elemental power reminiscent of Xenakis, the music drops, its power spent, into a gentle duo of xylophone and vibraphone (if my ears have it right), exchanging brief, drooping phrases from either side of the orchestra. Wallin's First Symphony will be something to look forward to."

Reviews For Manifest

"It's now! Right now you can experience Jacob F. Schokking's new music theatre... Constantly we are in a bombardment of impressions, and nothing shouts better to the texts, because almost everyone of them belong to the manifestoes of art... The music, among these the spoken rhythms, is composed by Norwegian Rolf Wallin, and he has done a very fine job constantly backing up without in any way putting barriers to the text... Both the SISU-ensemble and the conductor Schokking uses on stage during the show with a great effect. This is not a performance you can finish in one thought. Luckily the printed programme has both a well-written introduction and the full libretto in both the original languages, in English and in Danish. There are no excuses. Get on with it." A Chamber Opera
Holland House
Rolande van der Paal, Mikhael Seryshev, Ardo Ran Varres
SISU Percussion Ensemble, Per Magnus Lindborg
Conductor: Rolf Gupta

"Manifest is challenging music theatre in a period where pre-produced pieces are more the norm than the exception, and the avant-garde seems to be a severely criticized term from the last century... it's a tour de force through the landscape of messages but paradoxically it is in this chaos-art that you will find the most beautiful paragraphs... as usual you are sucked into Schokking's sensuous universe, where the many-dimensioned computer graphic some times can be both insistent and stifling at the viewer... the singers (...) expose the message and redeem with an overwhelming energy the music of Rolf Wallin as a mixture of song, shouting and recitation... Manifest will probably frighten a lot, but exactly uncompromising pieces like Manifest has great importance for the future of the music-theatre. The political message is still important and the world is still just as insane and omnivorous: Again man has decapitated the stars, and heaven is slaughterhouse-bloody."

Reviews For Tides

Kroumata Percussion Ensemble
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Cond.: Esa-Pekka SalonenWien Modern (final evening)
Wien Konserthaus

"...das orginellste Opus, Wallin's "Tides", erklang gleich zu Beginn. Übersetzt man den Titel mit "Gezeiten", hat man auch den Schlüssel zum Werk gefunden, das im wesentlichsten auf drei minutiös geplante Wellenströmungen aufbaut. Womit ein steter Wechsel von Spannung und Entspannung garantiert ist - klanglich und dynamisch wie rytmisch. Eine Gruppe von sechs Schlagwerkern bestimmt mit ihren Einwürfen und Soli den Klangteppich. Das exzellente Perkussionsensemble Kroumata nutzte seine Chance. Gemessen an diesen wurf hatten die übrigen Werke schwer."

" original Opus, Wallin's "Tides" came right at the start. Translating the title with "tide", it has also found the key to the work, which is based on three essential in meticulously planned wave currents. Thus a constant alternation of tension and relaxation is assured - and sonically dynamic as rhythmically. A group of six stroke machine operators determined with their objections and the solos sound carpet. The excellent percussion ensemble Kroumata took a chance. Measured against these draft the remaining works were difficult."

Reviews For Move

Stonawave, ning, .though what made it has gone, Onda di ghiaccio

"Rolf Wallin's Move profiles richly contrasting pieces written in the last decade, kaleidoscopic in the style of leading Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg. Solve et coagula has already been recorded by chamber ensemble Cikada (see The Wire 169). It's a gloriously kinetic exploration of sound masses that mimic the swing of a crazy pendulum. A similar effect is found in Ning, performed by BIT 20 from Bergen. The percussion piece Stonewave is the most mathematical in concept. But though most pieces are derived from fractals as found in chaos theory, the results are much more immediately approachable than Xenakis' stochastic compositions. An outstanding release."

Reviews For mandala

Ad hoc ensemble at Alice Tully Hall, New York. Cond.: Per Brevig

"A lot of planning and execution had gone into Rolf Wallin's Mandala, too, but for an entirely different effect. With a jeweler's precision, Wallin has created a kind of Gamelan sonority with his scoring for two pianos and two percussionists. But there is more originality here than that description might imply, and more expressive sensitivity, as well. An undercurrent of mysticism pervades the work, lifting it out of the 'percussive sonorities for their own sakes' category."

Reviews For Onda di ghiaccio

"Onda di ghiaccio, a premiere from the Oslo composer Rolf Wallin, was a delicate, intricate mobile featuting curlew-like sliding motifs." Ensemble BIT 20 at St. Giles Church, London Cond.: Ingar Bergby

"Arne Nordheim's Magic Island (....) was balanced by the world premiere of the revised version of Rolf Wallin's Onda di ghiaccio (Ice Wave), an exquisitely imagined piece of musical glaciology."

Reviews For Solve et coagula

"Rolf Wallin And Lasse Thoresen provided the best new Norwegian music. Wallin, whose 1990 Stonewave" for percussion also enjoyed a stunning outing at Ultima 1992, gave the Cikada Ensemble its finest moments in the festival with a handsome sprawl for orchestra and prepared piano. Almost brutal dynamic contrasts within a single bar, a Prokofiev-like intensity of feeling, and complete mastery of orchestral color were among the virtues of this surprising score."

Reviews For Stonewave

The Kroumata Percussion Ensemble
Tender Is the North Festival, London

"In literary contrast (to Takemitsu's Raintree), the Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin's Stonewave, for six percussionists, exploits the power of rhythm. The work takes the form of a series of assaults, subtly varied in timbre and pulse, and culminating in a thrilling final sortie." "As the dense lines of audience winded toward Röstrandgatan, it was everything but springlike outside, rather closer to the freeze point..."

"Nevertheless, the temperature rose considerably within the spaceous church, just to culminate into Rolf Wallin's Stonewave for six percussionists. What a wonderfully tight and skilfully crafted piece! At first the tension is hightened in clearly divisioned passages, juxtaposing dramatical gestures against withheld lyricism. Later the different registers are brought together to a unity with an everincreasing pressure."

Reviews For Mannen som fant en hestesko

Based on texts by Osip Mandelstam
Black Box Theatre, Oslo

I have laid my ear under the bark of drifting timber to hear the growth rings march outwards.

Where to begin? Everything chirps and rocks. The air quivers with comparisons. No word is better than another word.

"The reason for bringing forward these very lines by Mandelstam, is that I believe them to be the base elements of Rolf Wallin's music. The sound illustrations fill the room with distant, beautiful sounds from a Russia long gone, and gives us the feeling that everything chirps and rocks. In the best moments, 'the air quivers with comparisons', powerful pictures and poetic reality."

Reviews For Id

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Cond: Esa-Pekka Salonen

"At the Oslo Philharmonic's concert wednesday, a thing happened that is just as unusual as it is positive: A new orchestral piece was on the program again in the same orchestra just a year after the premiere."

"Nor will it be the last time to hear Rolf Wallin's 'Id'; to be true, many good pieces remain unperformed, but it is also seldom that new music gets to show what it is worth like this time."

"The young Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen is a composer himself, and his understanding of Wallin's work gave rise to a very effective interpretation. And the orchestra goes along with him: Seldom I've heard advanced contemporary music performed with such a nerve and enthusiasm."

"'Id', Wallin's first orchestral piece, is a rare thing in Norwegian contemporary music - with its conscious relation to the modernist tradition. The composer takes as point of departure in the colours of the orchestra and paints with powerful strokes - but also in clear lines, from the form structure down to precise details. And he builds the musical relations with a strong expressional power. This is new music that really swings."