• Britta Byström
  • Encounter in Space (2014)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • cl.tpt.pf
  • 15 min
    • 22nd June 2021, Risør Kirke, Risør, Norway
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Programme Note

"Human fates are like planets. They appear from the unknown only to meet and disappear." That was Edward Munch's own commentary on his woodcut Encounter in Space (1898-99). Two figures – a turquoise woman and a red man – float together against a black background. The encounter which Munch had in mind was evidently of a sexual kind: swimming sperms surround the couple.
Immediately when I saw this picture, I felt that it was "resounding", that it could be transformed into music. I was enthralled by the picture's sense of weightlessness, by the floating motif cut out with sharp contours. The three colours became three instruments: I imagined clarinet and trumpet as the two figures and the piano as the dark, echoing space behind them.

Munch made his woodcut from one solid block of wood which he sawed into three pieces, one for each colour. Similarly, my trio is made in three pieces – movements – which all spring from the same musical body. In the first movement, the three instruments are clearly separated, with their own lines and gestures, but they gradually come closer to each other throughout the piece and in the last movement they meet and play in unison.
In the second movement, the piano is used as a "resonance box": the wind instruments play into the piano while the pianist keeps the pedal down. When a blown tone hits the open piano string, it is set into motion and starts to vibrate – an acoustical "encounter in space".

© Britta Byström