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Rolf Wallin

Publisher: Chester Music

Das war schön! (2006)
A project of the Wiener Mozartjahr 2006, co-commissioned by the Wiener Mozartjahr 2006 and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, with support from the Norwegian Composers' Fund.
Chester Music Ltd
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
20 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
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Programme Note
Rolf Wallin Das war schön! (2006)
The five movements of this concerto focus on different musical and biographical sides of the picture of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The three middle movements are composed on the basis of musical excerpts from his oeuvre. The outer movements are based on the frequency plotting of bird song. It has repeatedly been suggested that Mozart "composed like a bird sings", effortlessly and almost like a medium for divine forces. Mozart was also very attached to his pet bird, a starling named Herr Stahr. Mister Starling could sing the main theme of the final movement of his master's 17th Piano Concerto, although with two small mistakes. Mozart included these mistakes in the entry of this theme in his catalogue of finished pieces, and he added the comment "Das war schön!" (that was nice!).

1) M. Noir
A tribute to another M. in music history associated with birds, Olivier Messiaen; one of his many compositions based on birdsong is Le merle noir (The Blackbird). The song of a rock thrush, cousin of the blackbird, was transposed down two octaves and slowed down to one fourth of its speed so that we sluggish humans can appreciate the many wonderful melodic turns hiding inside the song.

2) Mon trés cher Pére
The first work Mozart completed after his father's death was oddly enough Ein Musikalischer Spaß (A Musical Joke). This caricature of the musical shortcomings of his often much more popular rivals ends with three extremely dissonant chords. Actually, played very softly these chords are quite beautiful, and they serve here as a small requiem for Leopold. Amadeus usually opened his letters to his father with "Mon trés cher Pére". This misspelled cliché of endearment strikes right into the core of Mozart's strained relationship to his father.

3) 3 x 3
Mozart was an active Freemason. In the overture to the Magic Flute, the wind instruments give away the secret knocking signal of the second grade: Short - long - long, repeated three times. Here, the signal can be heard in the Marimba part.

4) Es klinget...
The only melodic percussion instrument available in Mozart's time was the glockenspiel. In The Magic Flute it is Papageno's musical weapon, and here is a transformed excerpt from the glockenspiel part. The orchestration also includes a reference to Mozart's use of glass harmonica.

5) Herr Stahr
Herr Stahr died only a week after Mozart's father, and Mozart wrote a heartfelt poem for his funeral. The starling is one of the great virtuosi among birds. Therefore the speed of the bird song is slowed down three times before analysis, but without losing virtuosity!

Score preview:

  • Ensemble
    Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra / Kroumata Percussion Ensmble
    Martin Grubinger (percussion)
    Jaap van Zweden / John Axelrod / Jukka-Pekka Saraste
  • 25 SEP 2013
    Konserthuset, Stavanger, Norway
    Stavanger Symfoniorkester
    Eirik Raude, percussion; Fransesco Angelico, conductor

    Other Dates:
    26 September - Konserthuset, Stavanger, Norway
  • 13 DEC 2011
    Konzerthaus, Berlin, Germany
    Camerata Salzburg
    Martin Grubinger, percussion; Ariel Zuckermann, conductor

    Other Dates:
    15 December - Stadthalle Osnabrück, Germany
    14 December - Kuppelsaal, Hannover, Germany
    16 December - Schloß, Kiel, Germany
    18 December - Konzerthaus Wien, Austria
    19,20 December - Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria
  • 09 NOV 2011
    DanseFestival Barents Hammersfest, NORWAY
    Ingun Bjornsgaard Project

    Other Dates:
    3,4 December - Radialsystem V, Berlin, GERMANY
    7,8 December - Kampnagel, Hamburg, GERMANY
  • 21 AUG 2011
    Lübeck, Germany
    Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Orchestra
    Martin Grubinger; John Axelrod, conductor

    Other Dates:
    23 August - Salzburg, Austria
  • 26 NOV 2010
    Das war schön! Country Premiere
    HK City Concert Hall, Hong Kong
    Hong Kong Sinfonietta
    Martin Grubinger (percussion); Yip Wing-sie, conductor
  • 09 NOV 2010
    Bergen. Norway
    Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
    Martin Grubinger; Andrew Litton, conductor

    Other Dates:
    23,24 March 2011 - Bergen. Norway
    26 March 2011 - Gothenburg, Sweden
    27 March 2011 - Bielefeld, Germany
    28 March 2011 - Cologne, Germany
    29 March 2011 - Dusseldorf, Germany
    30 March 2011 - Heidelberg, Germany
    1 April 2011 - Linz, Austria
    2 April 2011 - Vienna, Austria
    3 April 2011 - Munich, Germany
    4 April 2011 - Berlin, Germany
    6 April 2011 - Stuttgart, Germany
    7 April 2011 - Frankfurt, Germany
  • 27 MAR 2010
    Deutscher Musikwettbewerb
    Bonn, Germany
    Beethoven Orchester Bonn
    Alexej Gerassimez; Mikhel Kutson, conductor
  • 26 APR 2009
    Oslo, Norway
    Universitetets Symfoniorkester Oslo
  • 21 MAR 2009
    Dresden Philharmonie, Dresden, Germany
    Dresden Philharmonic
    Martin Grubinger, percussion

    Other Dates:
    22 March - Dresden Philharmonie, Dresden, Germany
  • 31 DEC 2008
    Trier, Germany
    Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
    Martin Grubinger, percussion

    Other Dates:
    1 January 2009 - Cologne Philharmonie
    2 January 2009 - Bad Kissingen, Germany
  • 25 SEP 2008
    Trondheim Chamber Music Festival
    Trondheim, Norway
    Trondheim Symphony Orchestra
    Martin Grubinger, percussion; Ingar Bergby, conductor
  • 15 AUG 2008
    Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival
    Lübeck, Germany
    Hannover Radio Philharmonia Orchestra
    John Axelrod, conductor
  • 03 JUN 2008
    Kristiansand, Norway
    Orkester Norden
    Roy Goodman, conductor

    Other Dates:
    6 June - Tromso, Norway
  • 30 MAY 2008
    Riga, Latvia
    Sinfonietta Riga
  • 18 FEB 2008
    Lincoln Center, New York, USA
    Juilliard School of Music
  • 07 FEB 2008
    Agder Teater, Kristiansand, Norway
    Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra
    Eirik Raude ; Rolf Gupta, conductor
  • 26 SEP 2007
    Bergen, Norway
    Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
    John Storgårds, conductor
  • 21 FEB 2007
    Das war schön! Country Premiere
    Oslo Konserthus
    Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
    Martin Grubinger, percussion; Kyrill Petrenko, conductor

    Other Dates:
    23 February - Oslo Konserthus
  • 17 NOV 2006
    Das war schön! World Premiere
    Wiener Mozartjahr 2006
    Musikverein, Vienna, Austria
    Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Martin Grubinger, percussion; John Axelrod, conductor
  • 17 NOV 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    John Exelrod, conductor

The Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin is increasingly gaining international recognition, and this disc is likely to win him further admirers. The percussion concerto Das war schön! refuses to conform to the genre's stereotype of superficially impressive crashing and banging. This Mozart tribute combines a genial charm, with flair and a sometimes impish sense of humour.
Christopher Dingle, BBC Music Magazine,01/01/0001
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