'Ríma' was commissioned by the Lillehammer Olympic Organising Committee (LOOC) for the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and Ragnhild Heiland Sorensen.
The title Ríma, literally meaning rhyme, derives from the title of the book: Rimi de Michelangelo Buonarroti, which contains the sonnet I have chosen.
In composing 'Ríma', as well as ‘illustrating’ the poem in music, I entered in my imagination, the imagined dream of the old Michelangelo, trying to be profoundly awake, yet dreaming in music, so to speak.
The work is predominantly slow and distant, giving the soprano-line for most part, a spacious and dreamlike harmonic framework within which to move. A solo cello plays an important role, and at one stage, joins the soprano in a long unison passage. Repeated semitonal fragments in the violin develop into a big climax; the blows of the hammer, the splintering marble, the chisel, the obsessive desire for eternal life through art. The despair and final solace and peace in sleep, in death, "the great friend of mankind", as Mozart put it.
Ríma ends quietly, with a ghostly flickering, into remnants of a dream evaporating?
© Haflidi Hallgrímsson