In nine movements ”Bloodhoof” tells about the encounter between the god Frey and the giant-woman Gerdúr, two beings living in parallel worlds. Clad in jeans, folk singer Lena Willemark creates, with keen sensitivity, fragments from the life of a woman, filtered through the archetypical rape that wounds her heart, carving an inscription like the stabs of a flint dagger and echoing in her memory like the hoarse breath of the wild beast. 

Skirnir on the horse Bloodhoof is the messenger sent out to win Gerdúr on behalf of the god. He fails with cunning – but succeeds with threats. The woman bears a child which will always remind her of the assault. 

It starts with a knocking. Musically, the composer works with fragments, hints of motifs in the bass register that barely answer one another, as if the feeling doesn´t carry. A tone in the vibraphone touched lightly by a bow; a plucked string. Her voice is monotonous when Willemark´s Gerdúr at first lies on the floor in the foetal position, surrounded by the eight musicians in ensemble recherche. Monosyllabic, in terror of the horse Bloodhoof, who enters ”sculptured by darkness”.

Her voice as weak as a child’s calling for her mama through nine nights of horror. Her hand swishing before her mouth to mark the beast´s heavy breathing. Crying ”no!” when the god presses her to eat a golden apple, at the same time as she rises up and flings the chain onto the floor. Only in the instrumental movement ”Spring” do we recognise Rehnqvist´s lyrical side, in a duet of bird chirping and sunlight between the first violin and the flautist. 

It is powerful and gruesome, even if a more clearly staged form, or perhaps a costume, could have reinforced Willemark´s luminous role. 

”Bloodhoof” raises important questions: Is the assault ongoing? Or has it not yet begun? Have women’s lives ever been any different?

Sofia Nyblom, Svenska Dagbladet / 6 February 2020

Photo: Francis Löfvenholm

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