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Rolf Wallin

Publisher: Chester Music

Realismos Mágicos (2014)
Chester Music Ltd
Solo Works (excluding keyboard)
Year Composed
15 Minutes
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Programme Note
Rolf Wallin Realismos Mágicos (2014)

Realismos Mágicos
11 short stories for marimba solo

Developed from the balaphones of West African slaves, the marimba became essential for many of Latin America's ethnic cultures: Native American, Afro-American, Jewish, Hispanic. On Guatemala's independence in 1821, the marimba was proclaimed the national instrument.

I have a vivid memory of my first real life encounter with a marimba in my mid teens. The sound so rich and luscious I wanted to eat it; the sensual ballet of arms reaching across a vast expanse of keys; the electrifying crispness when the mallets meet the rosewood, surprisingly followed by a deep, burgundy-like resonance.

I find a similarly fascinating constellation in the writing of Gabriel García Márquez, the foremost exponent of Latin-American magical realism: a striking and unpredictable wit leaving behind a resonance of great emotional depth.

I borrowed the title of 11 of García Márquez' magnificent short stories and wrote 11 marimba pieces for them. The pieces are not descriptive of the plot of the stories; they spring out of the poetry of the titles themselves.

Realismos magicos was co-commissioned by the Bergen International Festival, Sound Festival, Scotland and the Wigmore Hall, London, with support from André Hoffman, president of the Foundation Hoffmann, a Swiss grant-making foundation. The world premiere took place on 7 April 2014 at the Wigmore Hall, London, performed by Colin Currie, to whom the piece is dedicated.

1. Ojos de perro azul - Eyes of a Blue Dog
2. El verano feliz de la señora Forbes - Miss Forbes's Summer of Happiness
3. El ahogado más hermoso del mundo - The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World
4. Buen viaje, señor presidente - Bon Voyage, Mr President
5. Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormas - A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
6. La luz es como el agua – 1 - Light is Like Water – 1
7. Diálogo del espejo - Dialogue with the Mirror
8. La noche de los alcaravanes - The Night of the Curlews
9. El coronel no tiene quien le escriba - No One Writes to the Colonel
10. El cuento más corto del mundo - The Shortest Story in the World
11. La luz es como el agua – 2 - Light is Like Water – 2

Programme note © 2014 Rolf Wallin

'.. welcome a major addition to the solo marimba repertoire, in the shape of Rolf Wallin’s highly heterogeneous suite of pieces “Realismos Magicos”. These pieces collide effectively with each other, much like the short stories from which they take their titles, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One frequently feels the surreality of this magical world, but also its claustrophobia, its instability and its unpredictability. With 11 movements ranging from five seconds to three-and-a-half minutes, this suite is supple, malleable, and by turns graceful and vehement.'
Colin Currie

The highlight... was Rolf Wallin’s Realismos Mágicos. The eleven short pieces of this collection from 2014 evoke the titles of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short stories. The sound world Wallin creates is thoroughly colorful and resembles that of Debussy’s Preludes. To conjure the image of water, the composer spins a thread of churning phrases that bubble to the music’s surface. In “El verano feliz de la señora” and “Un señor muy Viejo con unas alas enormas,” rumbling chords low in the instrument’s register create a halo effect of harmonics. Other movements have passages of spinning minimalist passages and are humorous for their brevity. “El cuento más corto del mundo” (“The shortest story in the world”) is little more than a flourish.
Aaron Keebaugh, Boston Classical Review,08/12/2016
'The glory of the evening was the world premiere of a piece for marimba by Rolf Wallin. Realismos Mágicos (11 short stories) was a co-commission by Wigmore Hall with Bergen Festival and Scotland’s Sound Festival. It wasn’t the stories of Gabriel García Márquez that inspired the Norwegian composer, but their titles alone. They are, indeed, irresistible. Eyes of a Blue Dog drew forth crystals of sound-cluster, flashing from the beaters as they twirled tight and close. A tiny, fleeting heat-haze of harmony of Miss Forbes’s Summer of Happiness; repeated notes reverberating full fathom five for The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World; and a thrumming, poised for lift-off, for a Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. [A] marvellous new edition to the repertoire..'
Hilary Finch, The Times,09/04/2014
'Rolf Wallin’s Realismos mágicos, a Wigmore co-commission, is a collection of 11 short stories recounted in the subtlest tones on the marimba, each highly poetic... '
Richard Fairman, FT,08/04/2014
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