Late November traditionally means rain, fog, gales and those in turn are the cue for the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the UK's leading festival of new music, where many of the world's foremost exponents assemble. By the end of the first full day the traditional hcmf weather had yet to arrive, but the town had filled up with visitors from all over the world.
Continuing a theme that seems to have emerged on these pages in recent weeks, a Nordic flavour runs through the festival this year.
We assembled in Huddersfield's St. Paul's Hall for a late-evening concert in which Iceland and Norway featured as composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir and Norwegian ensemble BIT20 presented aequilibria. It was written earlier this year and was receiving its UK premiere, along with new pieces by Manchester-based Larry Goves and Norway's Jan-Erik Mikalsen.
Radio 3's Hear and Now broadcast the whole concert live, and it is available via the button below.
I tend to be deeply inspired by nature when writing music
aequilibria begins with its feet firmly on the ground, with a tonic drone shared between the bass instruments. This groundedness is enhanced by the emergence of an occasional major chord from within a hazy texture, but overall the impression is of light, airy and airborne textures in the flute and violins. A slow progression towards a brief but arresting crescendo suggests a distant tectonic rumble.
"I am deeply inspired by nature when writing music. I do not seek to imitate actual sounds but search for natural proportions and natural movement and flow" says Thorvaldsdóttir. Her latest album, Aerial, has just been released on Deutsche Grammophon.