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Havoc, atomic bomb and destruction – Eichberg’s piano-oriented works played by a prize-winning young pianist

Havoc, atomic bomb and destruction – Eichberg’s piano-oriented works played by a prize-winning young pianist

The pianist Emil Gryesten plays Søren Nils Eichberg’s piano-oriented works on a new release being issued today on CD, download and all streaming services.

New release
16 August 2019

“The piano is my instrument,” says Søren Nils Eichberg; “I am led by my fingers.”

On a new album, the pianist Emil Gryesten plays Eichberg’s piano-oriented works, which deal in various ways with destruction and decline – often with a literary point of departure. The works were written over a decade from 2002 onwards – pivotal years for Eichberg, coming directly after his victory in the composing discipline of the 2001 Queen Elisabeth Competition.

Tom Kristensen’s iconic Havoc as music

The new album Scherben includes Eichberg’s concertino Havoc (Hærværk), which has as its point of departure a major work of Danish literature – the writer and journalist Tom Kristensen’s monumental and partially autobiographical novel of the same name from 1930, which features the journalist Jastrau’s decadent disintegration into alcoholism. Eichberg’s work is a reaction to his own recollection of having read the book while at high school, and it contains the novel’s elements of decadence and self-destruction.

The Hiroshima bomb is commemorated in haiku form

Death and meaninglessness are strong elements of the piano quartet Natsukusa-Ya, which deals with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The work was written for a concert commemorating the the victims of the bomb, and it was first performed in 2005, sixty years after the event took place, by an ensemble under the leadership of Japanese Daishin Kashimoto, First Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic.

Eichberg’s starting point is a haiku by Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694): Summer grass alone / Remains as faded trace of / Ancient warrior’s dreams.

“After the fighting and battles, after all the vanity of humans, nothing remains except for grass,” reflects the composer. The form of the haikuand its poetic concept of juxtaposing two contrary but interdependent images are leading for the paino quartet in which the principle of 5-7-5 controls intervals, harmonies and rhythmic patterns.

  • Søren Nils Eichberg

    Scherben – Works for Piano and Ensemble

  • Søren Nils Eichberg

    Before Heaven, Before Earth - Symphonies 1 and 2

  • Søren Nils Eichberg

    Symphony No. 3 · Morpheus

Prizewinning, young pianist

Pianist Emil Gryesten (b. 1985) was educated at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, with further studies at the Como Inter­national Piano Academy in Italy. He has received awards at a number of Danish and international competitions for young pianists. As a 15-year-old, he won first prize at the Steinway Competition in Hamburg and a gold medal at Berlingske Tidende’s Classical Music Competition in Copenhagen. In 2010, he won both the first prize and the Audience Prize at the Nordic Pianist Competition at Nyborg Castle. During his time as a student at the Sibelius Academy, he also won first prize at Finland’s National Piano Competition in Jyväskylä in 2010, and he also received the first prize at the Blüthner ­Pianist Competition in Malmö in 2006.