Danish chamber ensemble revives Carl Nielsen’s woodwind piece in Tehran

TEHRAN, Feb. 16 (MNA) – Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, as one of the leading Danish ensembles in modern compositions, invited Iranian music lovers to enjoy a performance of woodwind pieces on the second night of Farj Intl. Music Festival on Thursday.

The Iranian metropolitan city Tehran is nowadays abuzz with a diverse selection of the best artistic productions in theater and music.

For music lovers, in particular, the 34th Farj International Music Festival is offering a six-day program consisting over 50 different types of music from classics to pop, by different artists from across the country and abroad.

On the second night of the festival on Thursday, Vahdat Hall in downtown Tehran hosted a chamber ensemble from Denmark. Calling themselves Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, with Athelas taken from Tolkien's fictive Middle-earth plant Athelas, a sweet-smelling herb with healing powers, the ensemble presented the attentive Iranian audience with woodwind renditions of works by three Iranians, one by Danish and one by a French composer.

The Thursday performance opened to a half-full house at Iran’s opera hall, with ‘Trio for woodwinds, op. 24’ composed by Shaheen Farhat (1974).

The ensemble had Helene Navasse on flute, Eva Vrtacnik on oboe, Anna Klett on clarinet, Signe Haugland on bassoon, Thorbjørn  B. Gram on horn, and Manuel Esperilla on piano.

Athelas performance on Thursday was flawless, but perhaps not for every taste. With its academic nature, it may not have been made to cater to any particular taste. It is mostly for those who understand the language because the performance of each piece was like a dialogue flowing between the musicians, who were standing in a half circle to make the conversation flow more naturally.

The highlight of the show was ‘Wind quintet, op. 43’ (1922) by Denmark’s most prominent composer Carl Nielsen (1856 – 1931). Nielsen is internatioanly known for his six symphonies, his 'Wind Quintet' and his concertos for violin, flute and clarinet. The piece played by four female musicians and a male artist on horn, was, according to the troupe’s artistic director, Jesper Lützhøft, inspired by Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Iranian historical city of Isfahan (‘The Marketplace in Ispahan’). 

Lützhøft called the piece as one of the most important parts of this year’s Fajr festival, explaining that Nielsen wrote it about 100 years ago, imbuing it with his unique views of Iran of that time.

Nilesen’s quintet was followed by ‘Alas for Quintet’ composed by leading Iranian musician Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour (1974), who was also present during the show and stood up in respect after hearing the Danish rendition of his piece.

Tafreshipour’s latest record ‘Persian Echoes’, which combines Western classical heritage with Persian traditional music, is considered as the first ever Iranian harp concerto recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra and the soloists Gabriella Dall'Olio and Alexander Rahbari, and published at Hong Kong-based Naxos Records. Tafreshipour studied composition and piano at Esbjerg Academy of Music in Denmark among other places and spent many years of his life in the Scandinavian country.

After the break, the ensemble returned to the stage with ‘Woodwind trio, no. 1’ by Persian-American composer Hormoz Farhat (1930), and a chamber music composition written by Francis Poulenc (Sextet), which was performed by all six members of the ensemble.

Speaking at a press conference before the concert, Athelas artistic director, Jesper Lützhøft, said he visited Iran last year to introduce Tafreshipour’s album, and fell in love with the country. His cooperation with Amir in some pieces recorded in Copenhagen led to an invitation extended to him to perform in Iran. And here he was.

“It is important to us to make a connection between the Western music and the Eastern music,” he said. “We want to make a connection with good people, and music gives us the chance to connect with people in the best way there is.”

Talking about Iranian music, he described it as a new and as yet unknown realm to him.

“Our musicians love to meet Iranian composers and talk to them about music. We would love to perform the pieces we have performed here back in Denmark, since the music community in Denmark is also looking for new works of music and will undoubtedly welcome this venture,” he added.

Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen is a Copenhagen-based, Danish chamber ensemble specializing in the performance of modern compositions. It was founded in 1990 with two composers and a conductor “out of frustration that no existing orchestras took an interest in performing new compositions.” The ensemble is now appreciated for the high quality of its work.

News Code 142581

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