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“Music without borders” EICMF 2015

The dance, the exhilaration, the joy, the fantasy, the popularity, the marvellous and the boundless have always been ingredients of music – whether it has been the music of the people, the music of the church, the music of the nobility, the music of the bourgeoisie and the music of art.

Music has always been created and played by these types who spend their whole lives mastering an instrument, filling their heads with melodies and rhythms, and music has been created by an endless succession of geniuses, eccentrics, loners and family men who have all had this strange urge to put notes together in patterns and forms and thus try to capture a sensation, a feeling, a mood or construct new contexts and hitherto unknown worlds – just with the help of a bit of music paper.

Music has evolved at all times – and in all directions – at times the different currents have merged for a time and then separated again, at times there has been a great distance between the music of the people and the music of the elite, and at times different genres have been so busy defining themselves that they have been unaware that their music too was only one possibility among an infinite number of musical forms of expression.

Nowadays, there seems to be a greater general realisation that many different kinds of music can contain great qualities – now we can enjoy or be enriched by Bach, Brahms and the Beatles – and no one looks down on jazz anymore?

Almost 100 years ago the guitar was not welcome in the classical concert hall, in our time the accordion has been condemned, but those times are over.

At this year’s Esbjerg Classical Festival EICMF, the accordion takes centre stage – not least because of its importance as a tango instrument – and here it is again! Has tango now become classical chamber music?
Yes, it is to a certain extent – Stravinsky wrote a tango already in the 30s; but when we say tango nowadays it is usually the Argentinian Nueva Tango, which Astor Piazolla is the godfather of, that we think of. Notwithstanding the fact that Finland is still as big a tango country as Argentina …

As if putting tango on the programme of a classical music festival wasn’t enough, the EICMF continues to live up to its reputation as one of our most progressive and wide-ranging chamber music festivals by presenting a fair amount of new music, a fair amount of ‘rare’ music by lesser-known but highly gifted composers, and this year the Festival is particularly topical and norm-breaking by presenting a series of works by British phenomenon Thomas Adés, who will receive the major Sonning Music Prize later this year.
Adés is unique as a pianist, conductor and composer, and he is no dietary contempt when it comes to purely musical matters: Two of the works we will hear from him at this year’s festival are his arrangements of English pop/rock hits from the 80s. Not so long ago, one would have written that we’ll also hear some of his more serious works; but that’s not really the case anymore – a piano piece with unusual time signatures like 2/6, 9/12 or 5/20 and a rather challenging harmony is no longer a more interesting thing than a clever arrangement of a Ska hit. We have to learn to live with it and enjoy the treats that still fall off along the way – and come to think of it, there are works by Beethoven, Haydn, Richard Stauss etc. that we don’t need to hear again – just as we do with a hit song from our youth.

One could have begun by saying that this year’s programme at the EICMF is one of the most courageous chamber music festival programmes in years, but we are not boasting in that way here, so it should simply be mentioned that there is Schubert, Beethoven and Brahms on the programme; but that what stands out most are the names we do not know so well – if at all: Madsen, Bliss, Veress, Lundquist and Benjamin.
Rest assured that there is something in store when these composers are on the programme of the simultaneously discerning and omnivorous Esbjerg International Chamber Music Festival!

We hope to see you there!

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