• Britta Byström
  • Ink-wash on paper (2020)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • cl(Ebcl).bn.hn.pf(cel).vn.va.vc.db
  • 25 min

Programme Note

"Ink-wash on paper" (Tusch på papper) is a work for octet, inspired by Gunnel Wåhlstrand's artistry. It consists of seven movements, each of which relates to a painting:

"Långedrag", "Looking at Paintings", "The Meadow", "Walk", "The End of July", "Shallow Waters" and "Rose". The paintings are placed in chronological order. The first, "Långedrag", is from 2004. The last two were painted in the summer of 2020 and the paper barely had had time to dry when I started writing music for them!

How does one capture an image in music? On the one hand, I have taken note of the water-based ink technique that Gunnel works in, and in various ways tried to transfer it to music - hence the title of the piece. But I also wanted to capture the special mixture of light and melancholy that is so striking to me in Gunnel's pictures.

My piece is intended as a pendang to Modest Mussorgsky's composition "Paintings at an Exhibition", where the listener is moved between different musical images via small interludes that Mussorgsky called walks. In "Ink-wash on paper" there are no interludes, but instead the set/painting "Walk", here placed in the middle of the suite. The three paintings before it are united by subjects with people seen from a distance, while the three paintings after "Walk" are close-ups of something in nature. In this way, one can experience how the perspective through the image suite gradually zooms in, until in movement seven we look into a dazzling white flower. This slow zooming in is also present in the music: at the beginning the octet appears as a single sound body, as if viewed from a distance, while towards the end we get closer and closer to the individual instruments. And the white paper – the magical sparkle in the water, the flowers in the meadow – is matched in the music by the lingering reverberation, the one that emerges when everything else falls silent.

"Ink-wash on paper" is dedicated to Gunnel Wåhlstrand.

Britta Byström