Premiere: Eclat Festival, Germany. February 9th 2019
Participants: Oslo Sinfonietta
Christian Eggen (conductor, piano)
Tora Augestad (mezzo-sopran)
Halvor Festervoll Melien (baritone)
Eivind Buene (vocals, piano)
This newest project in a series of collaborations between Oslo-based composer/author Eivind Buene (*1973) and Norway’s principal ensemble for contemporary music is a contemporary reflection on Franz Schubert’s (1797-1828) Lieder-œuvre from three different musical angles.
Buene’s newest work is based on his own previous approach to the Schubertiades from a singer-songwriter-perspective – the Schubert Lounge series – and his idea that classical music can be altered in the same way as literary material can be changed by directors and dramaturgs in classical drama, by adding or removing, thereby turning the material into something different.
“The human voice has been a theme in both of my novels. In Enmannsorkester, one of the characters, a history student, experiences a breakdown related to Schubert's Winterreise […]. Parallel to writing this, I started experimenting a bit with Schubert's songs, reworking their form and attitude as popular music. I tried to imagine how it would sound if Schubert was a singer / songwriter in the seventies. […] The result was a series of performances, mostly house concerts in Schubert's spirit." (Buene)
By presenting Schubert in new ways, with Buene’s own voice and a simplified accompaniment, he achieved a surprising twist on how these Lieder can sound – actually in accordance with Schubert’s own methods – while at the same time recreating the house concert’s social form.
Oslo Sinfoniettas version of the Schubert Lounge takes this idea yet a step further:
Buene will select a number of songs from Schubert’s œuvre as a departing point for a new autonomous ensemble piece that will complement and contrast both the original versions of these songs for voice and piano, as well as Buene’s English singer-songwriter-like versions. The result is a full-length concert constituted by 15–20 minutes each for Schubert songs in original and singer-songwriter versions, and 30 minutes of Buene’s new material.
The composer’s work is thus twofold: The composition of the new piece is accompanied by his curatorial work of intertwining the new music with the existing songs in their different formats, thereby creating a continuous flow, a homogenous work that oscillates between different styles, époques and instrumentations.
Schubert Lounge was premiered at Eclat Festival 2019, by Oslo Sinfonietta, Eivind Buene himself, Tora Augestad (mezzo-sopran), baritone Halvor Festervoll Melien and Oslo Sinfonietta’s conductor, Christian Eggen, who also played the piano.
Video and pictures by Eirik Eggen Brekke