A distant perspective

Matthias Pintschers “NUR” for piano and ensemble. World Premiere in Berlin

Contrasts between the metallic sound of the piano and the ensemble define Matthias Pintscher’s work for the Barenboim-Said Akademie and its founder Daniel Barenboim. The world premiere will be on 20 January 2019 in Berlin.

“NUR” means “fire” in both Arabic and Hebrew. Matthias Pintscher’s new work for piano and ensemble is his very first for this combination, composed for Daniel Barenboim and the Barenboim-Said Akademie, and it is thanks to the initative of this very special interpreter. “I thought about this scoring from a completely new angle when Daniel Barenboim invited me to write for this special ‘west-eastern’ orchestra and for him. The solo instrument and the ensemble are partners, there is no performing in the usual sense, but an encounter on an equal footing, true music-making in dialogue.”

In the orchestration the metallic sound of the piano contrasts with the ensemble parts in a deep sonority, and the manifold opposites extend the sound like mutation stops into the darkness. Unlike in the solo piece “Whirling tissue of light”, which involves the clashing brilliance of the piano, here a soft, flowing tonal sound develops. In the first of the three movements the events gradually build out of the lightness of an impromptu. Out of the soft calmness it gradually becomes charged, but only culminates in the third movement in a hard, metallic rhythm. At the centre stands the contemplation, like a caesura, “where the ash speaks, what remains after the fire, in fine, tender, isolated little spots. The music returns to the point where silence is the actual event”, the composer explains. The fire is about the alteration of physical states, about transformation. Here the special flowing quality opens up the view to the horizon, a distant perspective. (photo: Franck Ferville)

Matthias Pintscher
NUR for Piano and Ensemble.
World Premiere: 20.1.2019 Berlin (Boulez-Saal), Daniel Barenboim (piano), Boulez Ensemble, conductor: Matthias Pintscher