In The Land of Mists Fundal shows his ability to control a refined, chromatic harmony which, in its use of triads, often borders of tonality, without sacrificing the independence of each individual voice. At first sight the score gives the impression of a closely meshed polyphonic tapestry, but a performance reveals moments of such innocent melodic simplicity as to evoke a dream-like Mahler.
The explanation lies in a refined use of what Fundal calls 'mutual melodies' - points at which the individual lines meet each other - thus seducing the mind into hearing melodies within other melodies.
Karsten Fundal The Land of Mists:
The work came into existence as an overall state of tension between two poles: On the one hand a consistently systematic, discursive and constructive way and on the other hand an intuitive, symbolic, chaotic and non-linear way of experience.
These are the two poles but it is the field of tension between them that has been important to me during the composition of the work; I have endeavored to stay in the middle of the two states as much as possible.
This middle is what I call the land of mists, a land where you must move very carefully because the intensity of experience in the state of tension evaporates or escapes as soon as you approach either of the poles.
’Mist’ as used in this connection means something that is logically explicable yet at the same time loses its meaning and communication if one tries to rationalize the content of the statement, or remove all the paradoxes.
Thus the work can be seen as a record of my efforts to maintain the tension of the work during its composition - with greater or lesser success - in other words, I do not claim to be perfect to maintain this tension but rather try to re-establish the balance in the middle whenever I have strayed towards one or other of the poles. It is this balance and seeking of balance I see the work as a record of.
However, one has little advantage out of listening for literal deviations as a kind of dramatization of the path of balance. Rather it is about a few violent deviations (’dramatic places’) and, to an even higher degree, about an implicit tension in the musical material itself which in the piece finds expression as fields of tension between two - or more - simultaneously occurring layers in the music.
The work is a commission from the Jutland Ensemble and was composed with support from the Danish State Art Council.
- Karsten Fundal