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Rolf Wallin

Publisher: Chester Music

Under City Skin (2009),
Under City Skin was commissioned by the Risør Festival of Chamber Music with funding from Det Norske Komponistfond and premiered by Lars Anders Tomter and the Risør Festival Strings conducted by Christian Eggen in Risør Church on 24 June 2009.
Chester Music Ltd
Soloists and Orchestra
Sub Category
Soloists and String Orchestra
Year Composed
30 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Alternate Orchestration
Violin; 5vn.4vn.3va.2vc.db/Electronics, Pre-recorded
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Programme Note
Rolf Wallin Under City Skin (2009),
Under City Skin
for solo viola (or violin), string orchestra and surround sound

The bestiaries of the middle ages, the zoological dictionaries of the time, are astonishing reading. The Dragon, the Unicorn and the Mermaid appear effortlessly alongside the Lion, the Horse and the Cat, and the real animals are given very odd characteristics:

– The pelican mother kills her offspring. After three days she revives them by letting blood from her own chest fall on them.
– A dog that crosses a hyena's shadow will lose its voice.
– A snake that tastes the spit of a fasting man will die.
– The blood of a he-goat can dissolve a diamond

In our time we know better. Or do we? Maybe we still hold an unconsciously mythological relation to the world around us, in spite of its modernisation and urbanisation? Perhaps many of the things we see and hear in the urban jungle contain hidden meanings for us, perhaps they carry strong histories of power, fear, yearning and bliss?

The Mercedes. The High-heeled Shoes. The Park at Night. The Cash Register. The Bus. The City Hall Bells.

In Berlioz's famous viola concerto, young Harold goes to Italy to broaden his mind. Here our protagonist goes under the skin of the city sounds, in a quest to find out what forces are hiding within.

Programme note © 2009 Rolf Wallin

Score preview:

The centrepiece of the evening was Rolf Wallin's Under City which the viola solos and the propulsive orchestral rhythms emerged from disembodied city sounds, mythologising the mundane. The viola soars but always returns to earth; the work might be a Lark Descending.
Erica Jeal, The Guardian,02/12/2010
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