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Rolf Wallin

Publisher: Chester Music

Boyl (1995)
Commissioned by Ensemble InterContemporain with funds from the French Ministry of Culture
Chester Music Ltd
Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed
17 Minutes
Programme Note
Rolf Wallin Boyl (1995)
Boyl is a Middle English spelling of the imperative boil, found in an alchymical writing by Aeyrenaeus Philalethes, London 1677.

Alchemy is known as the grandfather of modern chemistry, but the philosophical aspects of it was perhaps even more important. The chaotic massa confusa, excavated from the mountain, has to undergo a long process in which it is repeatedly dissolved (boiled) and coagulated, and from this the prima materia emanates, the raw material for making gold. Carl Gustav Jung was very occupied with the archetypal aspects of alchemy, and was struck by the similarities between opus magnum and the psychoanalytical process. In the latter, the massa confusa of the subconscious is the prime instrument for reaching mental completeness.

In my music, the massa confusa is number material emanating from a so-called "fractal" mathematical function. The function is relatively simple, but it generates fascinating and surprisingly "organical" patterns when repeated a large number of times. The main issue of "Boyl" is the interaction between the liquid, cold and yielding principle of mercury, and the solid, burning, and dominant principle of sulphur. In the piece, mercury is alone on the scene for a long time before sulphur enters. During the piece, the two principles interchange their qualities, and, finally, they melt together.

'Boyl' was commissioned by the Ensemble Intercontemporain.

© Rolf Wallin

Preview the score

  • Ensemble
    Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (Concerti); Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (Ground); Oslo Sinfonietta (Boyl)
    Leif Arne Tangen Pedersen, clarinet; Tom Vissgren, timpani; Øystein Birkeland, cello
    Rolf Gupta (Timpani Concerto); Christian Eggen (Boyl/Clarinet Concerto); Terje Tønnesen (Ground)
  • 03 MAR 2018
    Schaubühne Lindenfels, Leipzig, Germany
    Ensemble El Perro Andaluz
    Lennart Dohms, conductor
  • 05 NOV 2015
    Stormen konserthus, Bodø, Norway
    Bodø Sinfonietta
    Magnus Loddgard, conductor
  • 25 JUL 2015
    Cesis, Latvia
    Musica Baltica
    Normunds Sne, conductor
  • 27 NOV 2014
    Stormen konserthus Bodø, Denmark
    Bodø Sinfonietta
    Peter Szilvay, conductor
  • 07 FEB 2013
    Amsterdam, Holland
    ASKO | SCHÖNBERG Ensemble
    Christian Karlsen, conductor
  • 29 MAR 2012
    Grieg Hallen, Bergen
    BIT 20 Ensemble
    Baldur Brönnimann, conductor
  • 14 JAN 2010
    Bodo, Norway
    Bodo Sinfonietta
  • 26 OCT 2009
    Biennale, Venice, Italy
    Oslo Sinfonietta
  • 26 SEP 2009
    Boyl Country Premiere
    53rd International Festival of Contemporary Music: The Body of Sound
    Teatro alle Tese, Venice, Italy
    Oslo Sinfonietta
    Christian Eggen, conductor
  • 24 JUN 2009
    Risør Festival of Chamber Music
    Risør Festival of Chamber Music, Risør, Norway
    Risor Festival Ensemble
    Lars Anders Tomter; Christoper Eggen, Lars Anders Tomter, conductor
  • 08 OCT 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Oslo Sinfonietta
  • 20 DEC 2007
    Schnee Country Premiere
    Lieder op.2
    Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, Holland
    Schönberg Ensemble
    Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor
  • 27 OCT 2007
    Oslo, Norway
    Norwegian Academy of Music
  • 11 OCT 2007
    Grieghallen, Oslo, Norway
    BIT20 Ensemble
    Diego Masson, conductor
  • 30 MAR 2007
    Temple of Peace, Cardiff, Wales
    Royal Welsh College of Music Millennium Ensemble
  • 13 NOV 2006
    Bergen, Norway
    BIT20 Ensemble
    Trond Korsgård, conductor
  • 24 MAY 2006
    Kristiansand, Norway
    Ensemble Ernst
  • 17 JAN 2006
    Toronto, Canada
    BIT20 Ensemble
    Jonathan Stockhammer, conductor

    Other Dates:
    19 January - Montreal, Canada
  • 09 DEC 2005
    Casa da Musica, Porto, Portugal
    Remix Ensemble
    Rolf Gupta, conductor

    Other Dates:
    10 December - Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 09 DEC 2005
    Casa da Musica Oporto, Portugal
    Remix Ensemble
  • 18 NOV 2005
    Hannover, Germany
    Ensemble Ernst
  • 17 SEP 2005
    New Nordic Music in St. Petersburg
    Sheremetev Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
    BIT20 Ensemble
  • 08 APR 2005
    Bodø Kulturhus, Norway
    Bodø Sinfonietta
    Torodd Wigum, conductor
  • 19 OCT 2004
    Teatergarasjen, Bergen, Norway
    BIT20 Ensemble
    Pierre-André Valade, conductor
  • 17 OCT 2004
    Ultima Festival
    Lindemansalen, Norges Musikkhøskole
    BIT20 Ensemble
    Pierre-André Valade, conductor
  • 18 APR 2004
    Moscow, Russia
    BIT20 Ensemble

    Other Dates:
    22 April - Rostov, Russia
    20 April - Volgograd, Russia
  • 08 JAN 2002
    Bregenz Festival
    Bregenz, Austria
    BIT20 Ensemble
    Ilan Volkov, conductor
  • 23 NOV 2001
    Boyl Country Premiere
    Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
    BIT20 Ensemble
    Annemarie Fjord Abildskov, piano

    Other Dates:
    24 November - Huddersfield
  • 10 NOV 2001
    Stockholm International Composer Festival
    Main Hall, Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden
    Stockholm Sinfonietta
    Susanna Mälkki, conductor
  • 15 OCT 2001
    Fokus Baltikum Festival, Tallinn, Estonia
    BIT20 Ensemble
    Ingar Bergby, conductor

    Other Dates:
    18 October - Vilnius, Lithuania

Boyl (1995) owes its title – merely ‘boil’ in an early, pre-Johnsonian spelling – to a seventeenth-century alchemical text which talks of the repeated melting base substances in the process intended to produce gold; Wallin binds in a subtext with Jungian allusions to psychoanalysis. Shifting, edgy, superficial phrases in the strings are gradually answered by ever bolder gestures from winds and percussion as the orchestra are gradually wracked by increasingly forceful elemental power reminiscent of Xenakis, the music drops, its power spent, into a gentle duo of xylophone and vibraphone (if my ears have it right), exchanging brief, drooping phrases from either side of the orchestra. Wallin’s First Symphony will be something to look forward to.
Martin Anderson, International Record Review,07/01/2002
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