• Rolf Wallin
  • Whirld (2018)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. First performed by Alina Ibragimova, violin, and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner at the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, on 21st August 2018.

  • 2(pic)+pic.3.2+bcl.2+cbn4300timp.2perchpstr
  • Violin
  • 25 min

Programme Note

i. Nigredo -
ii. Albedo -
iii. Citrinitas -
iv. Rubedo

The world is a whirl, and every whirl is a world, we have been told for thousands of years by ecstatic mystics. And in the last century, our sober scientists have confirmed that it is a fact.

In this violin concerto I have returned to the puzzling and mystifying ‘whirld’ of fractal mathematics, where the straight rules of numbers open up into the realm of swirling clouds, meandering rivers and mesmerising bird flocks. When these so-called chaotic mathematical patterns are projected onto music, strange melodies come to life; like plants, like animals that move in fascinating, unpredictable ways. The dry numbers give birth to surprisingly emotional melodies – yearning, serene, strident, jubilant.

In the process of making a violin concerto out of these melodies I have felt like the old alchemists, who brought the chaotic massa confuse through a process of dissolving and coagulating, evaporating and solidifying, in order to bring forth the magical Philosophers' Stone, to make precious metals, to heal illnesses, or to make life out of dead matter. And more important for many of them, as a process of personal spiritual healing and transcendence.

Sir Isaac Newton, father of modern science, was – surprisingly - one of these magician-scientists who studied alchemy with utmost seriousness. Another of them was Johann Conrad Barchusen, who in his beautifully illustrated Elementa Chemiae depicts the alchemical process as a dove flying up and down in the fuming laboratory retort, meddling not only with the four elements, the sun, moon and planets, but also with a lion, a dragon and a self-eating snake. Our soloist is like this bird, flying through the four vessels of Nigredo (blackening), Albedo (whitening), Citrinitas (yellowing) and Rubedo (reddening). These four movements are played without interruption, only separated by narrow channels centring around a single pitch.

Programme note © 2018 Rolf Wallin

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