18 – 22 September 2018

Debussy from all sides

1918 – without doubt, a thought-provoking year. Achille-Claude Debussy passes away at only 55 years of age, leaving a world, ravaged by war, that will go through an unimaginable transformation over the next 100 years to present day. How would Western classical music have developed if Debussy had lived to make music for another twenty years? Composers such as Stravinsky, Ligeti, Takemitsu and Magnus Lindberg would have had an even more abundant source of inspiration, and Debussy himself would have had time to write his planned sonata for trumpet, clarinet and piano.

1918 – Louis Armstrong is 17 years old, Bix Beiderbecke is 15, and jazz is but a child as the inquisitive Debussy grabs hold of its rhythms.

1918 – two composers are born, on two different continents, who would ruffle the feathers of various “highbrow” commentators by consistently seeking to incorporate the expressions of jazz in their music. As a sign of the times, two works considerably influenced by jazz – Zimmermann’s trumpet concerto “Nobody knows…” and Bernstein’s “Prelude, Fugue and Riffs” – both have their first performances within five days of each other in October 1955!

For us today, and composers such as Mark-Anthony Turnage, this fusion of styles seems obvious. A lot can happen in 100 years. Betsy Jolas has lived through 92 of these years, and MCM is now in its third. 


Håkan Hardenberger, artistic director

In its third year, Malmö Chamber Music marks three 100th anniversaries: Claude Debussy passed away, at the age of 55, during the dramatic war year of 1918 – the same year as both Leonard Bernstein and Bernd Alois Zimmermann were born. In Håkan Hardenberger’s specially-tailored programme, this trio meets the composers Betsy Jolas and Mark-Anthony Turnage (we in the audience also get the chance to meet Madame Jolas and Mr Turnage, as they will both appear at the festival) in this year’s festival theme Debussy from all sides.

The festival days will include works written by the thirty-year-old Claude, such as his string quartet (which was actually the only one he wrote) and Nocturne for Solo Piano, as well works for the somewhat unusual trio of flute, violin and harp. And of course, the violin sonata, one of the last things he wrote. Different sides of a composer who moved from the late romantic era into the new century’s impressionistic musical colours. Although Debussy himself never appreciated the term impressionism, within music he has come to be considered to be one of its most important representatives.

Malmö Chamber Music 2018 contains not one, not two, but three first performances! To mark the special occasion, the opening concert allows us to be the first people to hear a work created by Jolas, which has been specially written for our artistic director Håkan Hardenberger and a star-studded string trio composed of violinist Emmanuel Tjeknavorian, violinist Lise Berthaud and cellist Andreas Brantelid.

First performance no. 2 is from our Swedish composer Catharina Backman. Debussy had planned to create six sonatas with different instruments but he “only” completed three before his far too premature passing. The fifth sonata was to have been written for a combination of trumpet, clarinet, bassoon and piano; Backman and Swedish Radio (SR) have now written the “unwritten” sonata, and it will be presented at Friday’s early evening concert at Palladium Malmö.

The third world premiere takes place just a few hours later, in Sankt Andreas church at Fridhemstorget square, where Mark-Anthony Turnage’s nocturne for Håkan Hardenberger and the string orchestra Musica Vitae will be heard on Friday night. During the last day of the festival, things really get stoked up when musicians handpicked from the orchestras on both sides of the bridge join together in a powerful finale featuring the tones of Turnage and Bernstein.

Malmö Chamber Music 2018 proudly presents a large number of world artists – in addition to the above mentioned performers, the harpist Xavier de Maistre, the pianist Roger Muraro, the flautist Mathilde Calderini, the guitarists Göran Söllscher and Mats Bergström, the violinist Malin Broman and the Quatuor Modigliani string quartet will also feature. There will also be a warm welcome back to the acclaimed chamber music orchestra Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, as it returns to Malmö Live.


Malmö Chamber Music 2017 at MUSIK I SYD CHANNEL 


Från Malmö chamber Music 2016:

Håkan Hardenberger and Roland Pöntinen opens the festival in 2016.

Feature from the festivalen 2016