"Im Freien" (In the open) was written during the first months of the covid-19 pandemic. Like so many others, I sat indoors most of the time, with a world in "lock-down" around me. But even with all concert life shut down, I thought of the music itself as still being out in the open, under the open sky.
The Swedish expression "in det fria" simply means "outdoors", but the literal meaning is that one is in a free state, as opposed to imprisoned. It leads to the idea that freedom is outdoors, while captivity is indoors. The music also took on, I thought, a pastoral mood, with a lot of playing on loose strings for the string instruments – a kind of musical excursion into the green.
The piece also draws inspiration from traditional West African music (incidentally, a whole musical culture that takes place outdoors!), both from different drum rhythms and from music played on the string instrument kora. The string orchestra is sometimes formed into a kind of drum group, where a musical pattern is created by everyone contributing their small contribution. And at times it turns into a giant, snapping chorus, where each string instrument forms a few parts of the whole.
And then we have the soloist, who is free of all constraints and flows on top of the orchestra. This is the fourteenth (!) work I have written for Malin Broman, and it is in many ways inspired by her way of playing. Even if the music is meticulously rehearsed, she makes it sound as if it arises in the moment - completely free. For me as a composer, this is a miracle every time.
Finally, a bit of curiosity: Malin Broman's name has quite scarce material for a musical anagram: we find the notes a-b-a. However, I have made a small motif out of this!