• Hans Abrahamsen
  • Märchenbilder (1984)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • 14 min

Programme Note

The title Märchenbilder, or "Fairy-tale Pictures", which I borrowed from Schumann, awakens
notions of music which in itself has a pictorial quality. In all, my score comprises six Fairytale Pictures, the first three of which form the first movement, the next two the second, whilst the sixth forms the last movement which is linked with the second without a break. The first two pictures have the same duration - one minute each - whilst the remainder
hesitantly inerease in length until the final picture is almost five minutes long.

The first movement, Allegro con movimento, begins brightly with playful and lively scherzo-like music which hardly gets going before it petrifies, rather like a nightmare where one is incapable of moving. Then a change to feather-light music with a miniature pastorale for the horn, and fanfares for the woodwind. Finally, there is a transition to a scintillating, repetitive section which is disrupted by three grotesque interjections from the strings with Bartokian pizzicati. Behind these, there appears a tranquil melody on the flute which, at the end of the movement, is almost swept away by rapid figurations swelling upwards from the depth of the bass.

The second movement, Andante alla marcia, is, in its first section, a petrified echo from the beginning of the first movement. The scene - with a gloomy melody for clarinet and bassoon which, in a number of layers of brass and strings, fans out into a stammering hocket - develops from a bass of eleven intervals on the piano which are doubled or accentuated by the strings and bass drum. The second part of the movement is a descending, chromatic weaving of textures with a metric accelerando in four different tempi and voices. High woodwinds and trumpet play melodic lines in the tonality of G major, whilst the strings, in contrast, move in an A flat major tonality. The descent incorporates a small chromatic piece for the piano which, through interweaving of several keys, is also tonal.

Towards the end, the descent becomes evermore insistent and chromatically threatening. An ascending section leads to a short glimmer from a despairing triumph made up from many keys, which is abruptly intersected by the third movement, Scherzo prestissimo.

This relatively extended movement is based on three layers, each one of which again consists of two lines - the one descending and decelerating, the other ascending and accelerating. The two layers in each instance comprise figures of 23 semiquavers in C major and 18 quavers in B flat minor. At the end of the movernent they meet in the key of B major and, in fact, by means of a modulation in which every note in C major is progressively flattened and every note in B flat minor, likewise progressively, but with a certain freedom, is sharpened.

The movement is a scherzo with two trios each of which appears three times. Trio 1, a dancing tune played by the clarinet and bassoon, is introduced by a glissando upbeat on the piano.

Trio II contains short fragments of waltz-motives which, the second time round, develop into a remotely Schubert-like waltz for the clarinet. A horn motive forms the upbeat to Trio II.

Hans Abrahamsen.



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