Beat Furrer – Nuun for 2 pianos and ensemble (1996)

Thomas Bjørnseth from Norway just posted this piece by Swiss composer Beat Furrer on the contemporary music blog

About the composer:

Beat Furrer (born 6 December 1954) is an Austrian composer and conductor of Swiss birth. Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Furrer relocated to Vienna in 1975 to pursue studies with Roman Haubenstock-Ramati (composition) and Otmar Suitner (conducting). In 1985 he co-founded what is now one of Europe’s leading contemporary music ensembles, Klangforum Wien, which he still conducts. Recent awards and honors include the Music Prize of the City of Vienna in 2003 and the Golden Lion, for the monodrama “FAMA,” at the 2006 Venice Biennale. Since 1991, he has served as professor of composition at the Graz University of Music and Dramatic Arts. The 25th anniversary of the Klangforum Wien was celebrated in 2010 at the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik with the premiere of his Xenos-Szenen for eight voices and ensemble.

About the work:

Just as the mythical goddess “NU” (compare Robert Graves, “The White Goddess”) was able to stop time still, in nuun the apparently overwhelming impetus of flowing sounds is slowly brought to a stop; purely mechanical energy is transformed into living energy. In Beat Furrer’s work for two pianos and orchestra, the central principle is transformation, specifically on the rhythmic, harmonic and tonal planes, as a continuous process from the beginning to the end. nuun is an almost unparalleled example of Furrer’s breadth of expression. The work goes from a thoroughly concise beginning to the final, lonely sound of the piano that eventually fades away into silence. Elements are slowly filtered out of the initial complexity, layers dissolve, making structures evident that were originally embedded in repetitive models as part of an overall sound. The composer’s intention was to “make evident the energy of movements and powers which form the substance of the music and go beyond it .” Beat Furrer compares this musical intention of the work to the “fine differentiations in colours that one recognizes as a result of observing a monochrome painting for a long time.” There is no need to add the notice: “shadowlike” (schattenhaft), on one of the last pages of the score to understand the parallels to Feldman’s favourite analogies. The shadowy sound of Beat Furrer’s composition is even related to the gentle graduality of a Morton Feldman composition in its radically different conception. The relationship even goes as far as the notation: nuun starts with a tiny rest for all of the instruments – a finesse taken from Feldman’s metaphysics. [Read more].

The music:

Get the sheet music here.


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