Violin Concerto (2020)
002*1*2220 00 0 str
in memory of Göran Rydberg
Commisioned by Swedish Radio Chanel 2
Catturami, se puoi – un galoppino per un quartetto di sassofoni (2015)
dedicated to the Stockholm Saxophone Quartett
Politikerveckan – en video (the politician week – a video)
Nostalgic scenes – a medley for trombone solo and Symphonic Wind Band (2015)
Composed for and dedicated to Nils Landgren
I. Celestial Steps
II. New York, Sunday Morning
III. Cool Heat
IV. Pussywiggle Stomp, Don Ellis 1965
Commisioned by Blåsarsymfonikerna with Nils Landgren as soloist, supported by Swedish arts council
First performed in Stockholm April 25, 2015 by:
Stockholm Symphonic Wind Band with soloists:
Nils Landgren, trombone
Jonas Knutson, alto saxophone
Mats Schubert, keyboard
Anders Johnsson, electric bass
Robert Ikiz, drums
Jonas Lindeborg, trumpet
Joakim Hallin, conductor
My comment on the piece:
Nostalgic scenes – to look ahead by a look in the rearview mirror. For me, musical creativity always is listening back and rephrase. Let your ears be a sort of prisms that leads the music in new ways of possibilities, sometimes colorful, sometimes black holes.
Nostalgic scenes end with a homage to the prematurely deceased American trumpeter Don Ellis, by performing an excerpt from his Pussywiggle Stomp from 1965. Ellis was my youth idol as a trumpeter and composer. This piece is in my opinion one of the coolest big band songs written, a hysterical sprightly cheerful outlook on life.
Nostalgic scenes are written for and dedicated to Nils Landgren.
Pavastique, for saxophone quartet (2014)
subtitle Runaway Beauty
Composed for and dedicated to the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet
uruppfört 21 november 2014 in Växjö
TicoPhobia, for saxophone quartet (2013)
TicoPhobia – or hov to get rid of an ear worm
Commissioned by Stockholms saxophone quartet with support by Swedish arts council
Uruppfört i Reykjavik den 2 februari 2014
Canzone 62, for mixed choir accapella SATB (2011)
Padre del ciel, dopo i perduti giorni,
dopo le notti vaneggiando spese,
con quel fero desio ch’al cor s’accese,
mirando gli atti per mio mal si adorni,
piacciati omai col Tuo lume ch’io torni
ad altra vita et a piú belle imprese,
sí ch’avendo le reti indarno tese,
il mio duro adversario se ne scorni.
Or volge, Signor mio, l’undecimo anno
ch’i’ fui sommesso al dispietato giogo
che sopra i piú soggetti è piú feroce.
Miserere del mio non degno affanno;
reduci i pensier’ vaghi a miglior luogo;
ramenta lor come fusti in croce.
Commissioned by Gustaf Sjökvists Kammarkör with support by Swedish arts council
Canzone 7, for mixed choir accapella SATB (2010)
La gola e ’l somno et l’otïose piume
Ànno del mondo ogni vertú sbandita,
ond’è dal corso suo quasi smarrait
nostra natura vinta dal costume;
et è si spento ogni benigno lume
del ciel, per cui s’informa humana vita,
che per cosa mirabile s’abbita
chi vòl far d’Elicona nascer fiume.
Qual vaghezz di lauro, qual di mirto?
Povera et nuda vai philosophia,
Dice la turba al vil guadagno intesa.
Pochi compagni avrai per l’altra via:
Tanto ti prego piú, gentile spirto,
Non lassar la magnanima tua impresa.
Commissioned by Gustaf Sjökvists Kammarkör with support by Swedish arts council
Full i Fan for Violin and Violoncello (2010)
Commissioned by Musik i Gävleborg with support by Swedish arts council
First performance: Hudiksvall februari 2011, Terje Moe Hansen and Hilde Sponberg
Djyliböytta Sjåong, for altsaxofon and organ (2006)
(The Song Thrush Sings)
– an nature poetic inferno.
Canzone 365 for mixed choir accapella SSAATTBB (2005)
I’ vo piangendo i miei passati tempi
i quai posi in amar cosa mortale,
senza levarmi a volo, abbiend’io l’ale,
per dar forse di me non bassi exempi.
Tu che vedi i miei mali indegni et empi,
Re del cielo invisibile immortale,
soccorri a l’alma disvïata et frale,
e ‘l suo defecto di Tua gratia adempi:
si che, s’io vissi in guerra et in tempesta,
mora in pace et in porto; et se la stanza
fu vana, almen sia la partita honesta.
A quel poco di viver che m’avanza
et al morir, degni esser Tua man presta:
Tu sai ben che ‘n altrui non ò speranza.
Commissioned by Eric Ericsons Kammarkör
First Performance: Stockholm Consert Hall (2005), Eric Erocsons Kammarkör, cond. Eric Ericson
Spa for oboe and percussion (2004)
First performance: The Swedish Arts Grants Committee 2009 december 8
Giacometti for string orchestra (2003) 9 vln, 3 vla, 3 vlc, 2 cb
From the fragile to the furious, from brittle stumbeling to sweeping thunder. -In Giacometti, inspired by the artists extract thin, heavy iron sculptures, Sten Melin offers the listener the possibility of exploring the line between ugly and beautiful with help of 17 stringed instruments. The celestial delicate notes in the beginning of the piece periodically breaks the atmosphere, continuing with heavily blunt which sweeps the listener into waves with warm and aggressive strength. It is paradoxical music – extract, compressed – minimal, maximal – delicate, bombastic – soft and atrocious. Where does it convert from one to the other? Where is the line between pleasure and suffering and why is it that the hard easily breaks when the soft bends and rebirths?
– Ann Lagerström (Translation by Petra Melin)
Seven heaven for sopranino saxophone, piccolo, didjeridu, ukulele, percussion and male voices,”the Hooligans” (1998/ 99)
From the four corners of the world, viva la musica globale, in quest of eternal bliss. With traces of aborigines, Balkan, Cajun pop and the barbaric yawp that can only come from a fotball fan’s throat. Flower power of the nineties for consuming souls. A musical outburst by the composer Sten Melin.
Hyssj for flute and guitar (1995)
Instead of trying to make itself heard above the carpet of sound that has covered our existence, this music tries to remind us of what we have lost and that is waiting to be rediscovered. Fluid whistling sounds from the flute and the guitar produce four minutes of tranquillity and presence. A tribute to sounds that have been drowned, to the wind blowing through cracks, to footsteps through leaves and the breathing of a light sleeper.
The piece makes demands on the audience. The notes are long and so transparent that the slightest cough may drown them. Whisper something to your neighbour and the music will be lost. Zap between mundane thoughts and the moment is gone forever. hyssj is a piece for the ear’s most sensitive nerves. Music for a closet.
Källarback Variations for saxophone quartet (1993)
A familiar theme
A number of stylistic clichés
A fearless approach to dirty tricks
The best musicians imaginable
Mix ingredients at top speed in a mental mixer
Use refrain as a mouthwash
Källarback Variations is dedicated to my three children, who nearly danced themselves silly while I was working on the composition, and also to the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet whose zest for music-making made the piece possible.
Ce n’est pas possible …
… ghiribizzo per pianoforte (1993)
Keep the change for chamber orchestra (1993) — 112*1* 1110 02 1 str, 2git, 2pf
I spent the summer of 1988 in a small, rented cottage in the village of Lyme Regis on England’s southern coast. The cottage lay next to the church where they practice change-ringing several times a week. It was during this more or less constant noise that I began to think about a new composition. I decided it would build on a change-series for eight bells, the same number as at Lyme Regis.
The piece was written in the spring and summer of 1989, the same time as my first child was born ten weeks prematurely. The constant trips between my home and the hospital, my desk and the incubator – this being a parent but lacking the child in the crib, a feeling af unreality that came over me in the midst of this inferno… During this period my life moved in two parallel tempi – one nimble and rapidly, the other extremely slowly and messily. The inability to separate life and death was never far away, feelings that left deep impressions on Keep the Change.
nänns for string trio (1991)
like the scent of last year’s lingonberries thawing in the spring sunlight
nänns: old Swedish word wich means “to be bold, eager”.
Två sånger / Two songs for baritone and piano (1991)
Text Folke Isaksson
Lampan / The Lamp
This poem is taken from “On board the Twilight Express”, which was published in 1988. The book consists entirely of prose poems, an unassuming art form which doesn’t sing like a rhyming poem, admittedly, but which still has a sort of musicality.
It is a composition with strong contrasts. The calm words in the first verse, “the hum of a distant source of power”, are presented here with a violent flow of power.
Sömnlös Odysseus / Sleepless Odysseus
Sten Melin himself discovered this poem, which was published in 1959 in the anthology “Sign Language”. I had almost forgotten it myself, but when I read it now I can see that it has intensity. The poem refers to the story of Odysseus’s visit to the Underworld and can be said to be about the emptiness of dictators, loneliness and the nightmares of a man returning from war. Perhaps Eyvind Johnson’s novel Return to Ithaka played a part in the poem’s conception.
Sonora for piccolo trumpet and piano (1985)
A sonorous blend of barbed wire and His Master’s Voice
Q is Q for string quartet (1983)
Sten Melin’s quartet Q is Q from 1983 is a musical Norén drama for four string-players; the piece poses the same questions as a theatre play about personal relationships. How many misunderstandings can a group survive? How many strong wills, outbursts and conflicts can there be between four individuals before their relationships break up and disintegrate?
It starts off normally enough with energetically dancing strings in playful concord. But soon the instruments seem to loose the thread and the parts get entangled in each other in introvert, mumbled conversations. They brood and become increasingly disparate and fragmentary. It’s like eavesdropping on the private, unuttered thoughts that unconsciously add spice to all human contacts. And then the musicians begin to question each other, to provoke each other. Partners become opponents. A minor squabble becomes a major argument. An exclamation is greeted with a long, uncertain silence. In their attempts to be convincing, the musicians and their instruments, as in so many of Melin’s pieces, have to test their limits. They experiment and convince, in high and low registers, in forte and in piano, with accelerandos and diminuendos, in shimmering sounds and howls. A many-facetted gamut of emotions for four desperate voices.
After hovering, bar after bar, on the utmost edge of sound production, they meet up at the very end and chafe against each other in quiet reconciliation.
Landet som icke är / The land that is not
I long for the land that is not,
for all that is, I am weary of requesting.
The moon speaks to me in silvern runes
about the land that is not.
The land where all our wishes become wondrously fulfilled,
the land where all our fetters fall,
the land where we cool our bleeding forehead
in the dew of the moon.
My life was a burning illusion.
But one thing I have found and one thing I have really won –
the road to the land that is not.
In the land that is not
my beloved walks with a glittering crown.
Who is my beloved? The night is dark
and the stars quiver in reply.
Who is my beloved? What is his name?
The heavens arch higher and higher
and a human child is drowned in endless fogs
and knows no reply.
But a human child is nothing but certainty.
And it stretches its arms higher than all heavens.
And there comes a reply: I am the one you love and always shall love.
(Edith Södergran ”The Land that is not”, 1925)