On Monday 7 April, percussionist Colin Currie will perform the world premiere of Rolf Wallin’s new work Realismos Mágicos at Wigmore Hall. The work is composed as 11 short stories for marimba solo.
Developed from the balaphones of West African slaves, the marimba became essential for many of Latin America’s ethnic cultures: Native American, Afro-American, Jewish, Hispanic. On Guatemala’s independence in 1821, the marimba was proclaimed the national instrument.
Says Wallin on his approach to composing his new work:
– I have a vivid memory of my first real life encounter with a marimba in my mid teens. The sound so rich and luscious I wanted to eat it; the sensual ballet of arms reaching across a vast expanse of keys; the electrifying crispness when the mallets meet the rosewood, surprisingly followed by a deep, burgundy-like resonance.
– I find a similarly fascinating constellation in the writing of Gabriel García Márquez, the foremost exponent of Latin-American magical realism: a striking and unpredictable wit leaving behind a resonance of great emotional depth. I borrowed the title of 11 of García Márquez’ magnificent short stories and wrote 11 marimba pieces for them. The pieces are not descriptive of the plot of the stories; they spring out of the poetry of the titles themselves.
Says percussionist Colin Currie: ‘ I welcome a major addition to the solo marimba repertoire, in the shape of Rolf Wallin’s highly heterogeneous suite of pieces “Realismos Magicos”. These pieces collide effectively with each other, much like the short stories from which they take their titles, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One frequently feels the surreality of this magical world, but also its claustrophobia, its instability and its unpredictability. With 11 movements ranging from five seconds to three-and-a-half minutes, this suite is supple, malleable, and by turns graceful and vehement.’
Realismos magicos was co-commissioned by the Bergen International Festival, Sound Festival, Scotland and the Wigmore Hall, London, with support from André Hoffman, president of the Foundation Hoffmann, a Swiss grant-making foundation. The piece is written to end the concert, which also features pieces by Carter, Nørgård, Mantovani, Maric and Pereira.
Rolf Wallin (born in Oslo september 7th 1957) is one of the leading contemporary Nordic composers, widely performed and commissioned internationally. His musical background spans from jazz, avantgarde rock and early music to traditional classical training, and this versatility is reflected in an exceptionally many-faceted list of compositions. Wallin’s compositional output covers a wide range of techniques and expressions: from strictly absolute music to music theatre and installations, from elaborate computer-aided composition in his instrumental music to strongly intuitive music for the stage.