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ARLEQUIN Concerto Burlesque for Piano and Wind Orchestra by MARTIN ÅKERWALL (Denmark,1965)

[#227] November 27, 2023

1998 | Piano & Wind Orchestra | Grade 5 | 15’-20’ | Concerto

Danish-Swedish composer and conductor Martin Åkerwall

Arlequin, Concerto Burlesque for Piano and Wind Orchestra by Danish-Swedish composer and conductor Martin Åkerwall is our Composition of the Week.

Arlequin was written in 1998 and premiered one year later, in Copenhagen, Denmark, by the Lyngby Taarbek Concert Band, Per Salo as piano soloist, and composer Martin Åkerwall conducting.

Åkerwall’ work takes its starting point in Harlequin's figure. The tradition of this figure is linked to the carnival, pagan rites and contact with underground forces and creatures. The keywords that are in the medieval times was linked to Harlequin figure and carnival are the concepts of life and death, high and low, passion, sexuality, devilry fertility, ecstasy and especially chaos.

Arlequin is structured in five short sections played without interruption.

Sonnestes et Campanelles – La gueule d’enfer – Charivari – Masca – Danse Moresca.

The work has a duration of 19 minutes.

“Arlequin is invoked at the beginning of the concerto by the piano through the delicate repetition of tone A, Arlequin's initial capital. A faint sound of small bells proclaims Arlequin yet unseen but present. Soon we are down in the Underworld universe. "La gueule d'enfer" with its infernal rumbling, leads us on the journey into the sensual teasing carnival parade "Charivari". Arlequin puts on its other carnival attributes, beak nose, cockscomb, and rooster spurs. He hungs his bells on his large wing ears, and dances, gesticulating convulsively birdlike sounds, bashing, scraping and cheering in a deafening "Curucuco". At night in the moonlight, we meet the creepy demonic female elders "Masca". They eat children. At the same time destructive and life-giving. Life and death in a single image. With "Danse Moresca" we see new sides of Arlequin's nuances. Now he shows up as the Creation and the erotic fertile. We end up in a hell of a game "Inferno". Chaos has taken over. The infernal rumbling, we remember from "la geuele d'enfer" will rise again. Our underground journey is coming to an end. Arlequin leave with a devilish smile scene, the same road he came in; through his name's first letter.” Program Notes by composer

Martin Åkerwall studied percussion, piano, composition at the Royal Danish Academy. As a composer he enjoyed the support of Boulez, Shchedrin and Gorecki. He has composed several stage-works on commission for the Royal Danish Theater, Scandinavian ensembles, and soloists.

His music has been performed at festivals, concerts and broadcasts in Scandinavia, USA, England, France, and Singapore. In recent years, Åkerwall has been renowned as a sought-after teacher for conductors all over the world. He has given masterclasses in USA, Finland, Latvia, Bulgaria, and Denmark


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