TILL ÄNGELN  MED DE BRINNANDE HÄNDERNA / TO THE ANGEL WITH THE FIERY HANDS

for oboe and mixed choir, alternatively for oboe and descant chorus

 

For a long time, I have been curious about how the different instruments and voices influence each other. One should be able to translate the specific qualities to the next instrument, for example in the female voice:

From head voice to flute or flageollettes
From lower chest voice – oboe in low register etc

Hence, to compose for choir and oboe has been an tremendeous inspiration. I searched a text where the oboe could be independent, as an opposite, yet with the possibility to interfere and melt in with the choir. I found Björn von Rosens beautiful poem To the Angel with the Fiery Hands

 

The musical language is, as always with me, inspired by traditional swedish folkmusic, both in harmony and for example the use of quarter-tones in the the oboe. Even in the voices there are reminiscences of a spesific “shouting singing” – “kulning” – a female method of using her voice outdoors to call in the cettle in the evenin or communicating at long distances. It’s a sharp, high and loud tune without vibrato.

In the middle of the piece 2 soloists and the oboe-player moves in short melisms above the cords of the choir, and the melting together of the voices and the instruments come forth: which one are the voice, and which one the oboe?

The piece is also written in a version for mixed choir and oboe.
Karin Rehnqvist


Texts:

 

To the Angel with the Fiery Hands
Lower, fall, descend to earth just once

angel high flying by with burning hands

 

Throughout these many winters passing one by one

our eyes and lips grew frozen, frosted sealed together.

 

Touch us gently once please, only once with your fiery palms:

pressing them oh ever so lightly across our icy eyes

 

And then we’ll sleep in peace and rest

quietly in the ashes left behind.
– Björn von Rosen, translated by Linda Schenck