Commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, NTR ZaterdagMatinee and The Royal Danish Orchestra
The natural music of numbers
Vers le silence was written during the COVID-19 lockdown and is a new milestone among Hans Abrahamsen’s orchestral works. For the first time since Nacht und Trompeten from 1981, Abrahamsen has composed a brand new purely orchestral work, not a concerto for one or more soloists, nor an orchestral work based on previous works.
Vers le silence is the last work in a series of three, following Left, alone for lefthanded piano and orchestra (2015) and Concerto for Horn and Orchestra (2019). After composing for solo instruments, which are dear to him and have a biographic dimension, the perspective has now broadened and is focusing on the orchestra’s span from grand expression to chamberlike.
With four movements, the work is longer than the two previous ones and the format is wider.
Vers le silence is dedicated to his friend, the composer George Benjamin, making it a work from composer to composer.
Despite external differences, the three works are built on the same foundation. The music’s time, rhythm and harmony are based on the first 9 prime numbers, which together add up to the beautifully round number 100. By using these prime numbers with their superb nature and irregular relationship to each other, Hans Abrahamsen manages to create an original architecture for his music, both in the grand form and in smaller sections of the music that are proportional to each other.
When we look closer at the music, we see, according to Hans Abrahamsen, how it arises from five elements: Fire, earth, wind, water and the fifth, which could be wood, growth or maybe humans.
At the beginning of the first movement, the five elements are presented in concentrated form, unfolding in a sort of ‘flash forward’ motion, in the following movements. Where the first four elements are more tangible, as known elements of nature, the fifth element is of a transcendent nature, associated with the antique philosophers’ idea of quintessence, the fifth element from which the heaven and stars are formed.
With an interplay between the natural habitats of the five elements, Hans Abrahamsen has composed "silence music", which during Vers le silence returns with a growing inner force. The title also refers to Alexander Scriabin’s Vers la flamme, where the music moves towards the flame. Whereas in Vers le silence it is the silence that is nurtured and gradually takes over. The silence is a catalyst for a musical journey which after the emotionally torn fire music of the beginning, at the end moves towards a more transpersonal and metaphysical world.
Esben Tange 2021
- Congratulations Hans Abrahamsen at 70
- 20th December 2022
- We celebrate Hans Abrahamsen at 70
- Danish summer festivals celebrate Wilhelm Hansen composers
- 7th July 2022
- On the program this summer: Per Nørgård, Hans Abrahamsen, Poul Ruders, Poul Rovsing Olsen and Leopold van der Pals