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Reza Namavar & New European Ensemble

the composer

Reza Namavar

the symphony

Bruckner No. 3

the ensemble

New European Ensemble

Sat. September 14, 20:15

Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam

the composer

Reza Namavar

transformation, unfolding, reworking, reversing, and distorting it, all while using almost the same musical material. As a listener, it takes effort to discern this thematic play. His piano piece Ti’afa’a is a striking example of this, as are the traveling images he created for the NBE from Bach’s Goldberg Variations. His great imagination, combined with his thorough craftsmanship, brings these mesmerizing and surprising transformations to life. The energy he applies to this process shifts as erratically from up-tempo to lyrically thoughtful and calm.

the new composition

Reza on his new composition

‘Bruckner is the man of the grand sound. He was often criticized for his orchestral doublings (multiple instruments playing the same thing), but this can also be viewed differently: Isn’t a massive sound (tutti: everyone playing) the ultimate end of orchestral density? He achieves his grand sound through 1. doublings, 2. tutti, and 3. stretching the range, the ‘ambitus’. The latter means making the highest instruments play higher and the lowest instruments play lower. I want to compose four movements, like the third symphony, that deal with this grand sound versus a very small sound, because my idea is that you only notice grand sound if there is also small sound.’

‘The first movement I will compose is a dialogue between tutti and solo, the second movement is for various solos, the third movement is a soft tutti, and the final movement is a very sharp dynamic contrast between solo and tutti, which I will enhance by extending the range (higher highs, lower lows) and having the solo/tutti contrast sometimes change measure by measure. This way, the piece will give the impression of working towards something. It will be a piece where foreground and background sharply contrast and interchange more frequently. Also, what strikes me about the third symphony is the sparseness of material; that is, building a huge piece with minimal thematic material. This suits me because that’s how I was trained at the conservatory with Louis Andriessen.’

‘During the corona period, I reviewed all of Antonio Vivaldi’s concertos and realized that he is also a composer who achieves a lot with few means. Such composers are very suitable for me to reflect upon. In other words, a painting with only red and white stands out more than a painting with all colours. By dosing and developing your ideas (instead of simply placing them side by side), the piece gains enormous unity and character. I want to maintain this focus per movement, achieved through few ideas, which I hope will sharpen the technique of what I tried to explain earlier (foreground and background, tutti/solo, etc.). This also explains my choice for the relatively large instrumentation of my new work because it allows me to make and develop the foreground and background play even more clearly. The symphony contains long notes (chords), accompaniment figures, and short motifs, and that’s essentially it. I plan to roughly adopt this pattern; they are excellent building blocks for a work.’

the ensemble

Emlyn Stam, New European Ensemble

‘We have established an extremely successful trajectory for the composition class with young talent from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague in collaboration with Reza. From this ambitious educational collaboration, the desire arose to have Reza write new work for our Ensemble. In particular, the refined orchestration and the exciting dramaturgical build-up of Reza’s compositions greatly appeal to the ensemble. His earlier work Tiaré Tahiti, from 2020, highlights these qualities, showing his remarkable ability to build melodic developments into an impressive arch. We look forward to our collaboration in Bruckner Casco!’

het ensemble

New European Ensemble

The New European Ensemble was founded in 2009 by passionate international musicians and has been acclaimed in the press for its ‘fantastic’ (NRC) and ‘exemplary performances’ (Volkskrant), praised as ‘one of the best ensembles in the Netherlands’ (Nieuwe Noten). Leading composers including Kaija Saariaho, Magnus Lindberg, Mark Anthony Turnage, Bright Sheng, and Anna Thorvaldsdóttir work with the group. The ensemble’s mission is to present contemporary and 20th-century repertoire in an engaging and accessible way for a broad audience. Therefore, they often seek combinations with film, literature, dance, theatre, and visual arts.


Symphony No. 3

Listen from minute 7:40 to minute 9:00 in this final movement; one of the most explosive and expressionistic moments in all Bruckner symphonies. Herbert Blomstedt plays only this first version of the third symphony because, according to Blomstedt, it does most justice to Bruckner.

Symfonie No. 3 (1873 versie): IV. Finale. Herbert Blomstedt Berliner Philharmoniker live.