• Rolf Wallin
  • Swans Kissing (2016)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned jointly by BBC Radio 3 and the Royal Philharmonic Society as part of the New Generation Artists Scheme and first performed by the Danish String Quartet at The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh International Festival on 27 August 2016.

Unavailable for performance.

  • 2vn.va.vc
  • 10 min

Programme Note

The abstract paintings of the Swedish visionary Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) predate Kandinsky’s first such by five years. As with many other artistic pioneers, her path was spiritual, coming from an urge to reveal the deeper truth that lies behind the reality we perceive with our senses. She never showed her work in public, allegedly painting ‘on commission’ from spirits.

Her series of large canvases, The Swan (1914), is a set of increasingly abstract variations on a striking figurative picture: one white swan flying down from above on a black background (the night sky?), and one black swan flying up from below on a white background (a frozen lake?). Their beaks meet with a kiss in the middle of the picture. In the subsequent variations, we see echoes, in curves and shapes, of the original image.

Like these paintings, my Swans Kissing is split in two. Two bodies of music mirror each other exactly in some aspects, but differ vastly in character. The first body flows slowly and viscerally upwards, the second pushes downwards with a relentless pulse. They meet with a “kiss” halfway through the piece.

In these paintings, Klint combines a strong constructivist geometry with a dream-like sensuality, resulting in visionary work of striking precision. They have inspired me to revisit an earlier path of my own, combining fractal mathematics and geometry with a playful sensuality.

Programme note © 2016 Rolf Wallin