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Composer Knut Vaage's Newly-Premiered "Relieff" Cello Concerto

The world premiere was recorded by cellist Amalie Stalheim, conductor Eivind Gullberg Jensen, and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra on April 8, 2021, in Bergen, Norway

Knut Vaage recently talked with The Violin Channel about his new work.

"The ideas of background and foreground, plus light and shade, are transformed into a musical language in this piece," Knut Vaage told The Violin Channel.

"The soloist is the driving force guiding the music together with the orchestra in a poetic and melancholic manner, but also in contrasting virtuosic solo passages creating an undulating dynamic form. The right conditions are thereby in place to ensure a fruitful dialogue between composer and performer, between the soloist and the orchestra. In addition, dialogue functions as a framework for the musical form and texture. To me, dialogue is the most important point of departure towards a better world.

"I was very happy when Amalie (Stalheim) asked me to compose a cello concerto for her. We looked for an orchestra, and after a while, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra became a co-commissioner of Relieff. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the premier was relocated to Bergen, performed by Amalie and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Eivind Gullberg Jensen. Amalie received support for my composition work from Art Council Norway. I'm grateful for all the positive engagement and support from the artists and the institutions involved.

"I have known Amalie since birth, and have been impressed by her development into a really great musician. It was a strong motivation to get such a fine opportunity to work closely with her from the very first idea into the premiere of Relieff. 

"After some preparations and a few sketches of the opening part, I found it necessary to seek solitude at my small cabin. Early in the process, I was afraid that the ideas themselves might not prove strong enough, but I persisted without altering the basic material. I had a strong motivation to cultivate my orchestral idiom and ended up with nine short reliefs. These are chiseled out in the form of a pedal-point fundament on the cello’s lowest note, C. Between each relief there is an interlude, although, before the final relief, this takes the form of a solo cadenza for the cello — a comprehensive summing-up of the work.

"My aim was to create a musical style that is open to reflection, yet at the same time, develops logically in the course of the work’s 28 minutes. I wish that modern art music will still be a vital part of music life and our society. My hope is also that the audience travels through the diverse sound landscapes in Relieff, enjoying the fabulous performance by cello soloist, Amalie, in dialogue with the superb orchestra of my hometown, Bergen."





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