Yggdrasil, my chamber concerto for cello solo with piano, harp and percussion, will be premiered on Nov. 22, 6PM at Malmö Academy of Music, Liljeforssalen. The piece will be performed as part of the Connect Festival.
Cello: Simon Bång
Piano: Akane Kusakabe
Harp: Miriam Klein Strandberg
Percussion: Anton Hugosson
Yggdrasil is a cello concerto in a chamber format, using the timbral contrast between the soloist and the accompanying group of piano, harp and percussion as one of its main musical ideas. The piece was inspired by Norse mythology, which has the ”world tree” Yggdrasil as one of its most powerful symbols. The composition is divided into four contrasting movements, each exploring its own set of (sometimes overlapping) musical ideas or leitmotifs, linked together by a prologue, three interludes and an epilogue which are built around a recurring theme in the cello. The four main movements are based on four different myths featuring the tree Yggdrasil:
I: The Norns – three female beings seated by one of the roots of Yggdrasil, weaving the threads of fate and watering the tree
II: The Sacrifice – a myth describing how the god Odin hung himself by a spear in the tree for nine days in order to learn the secret of the runes
III: The Dragon, the Eagle and the Squirrel – the dragon Nidhugg lives underneath the root and the Eagle sits on the highest branch, and they communicate only through the squirrel Ratatosk who runs up and down the tree trunk spreading malicious slander from one to the other
IV: Ragnarök – the apocalypse, where legend has it that the tree Yggdrasil will burn and shiver, but still survive and stand firm even after the worlds of the gods and the humans have crumbled
These myths have determined the overall dynamic and timbral characteristics of the individual movements, as well as which combination of motifs are being used and how they relate to each other. Each motif is tied to a certain harmonic ”flavor” – a chord, a set of intervals, a tone series, a non-pitched sound, a glissando etc – and even though the piece is by no means dodecaphonic (although one of the thematic ideas is a 12-note row), there is an aim within several of the motifs to make equal use of all pitches when possible.
The piece was commissioned by Simon Bång with support from the Swedish Arts Grants Council (Konstnärsnämnden).