orjan matre

Ørjan Matre (b. 1979) studied composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music with Bjørn Kruse, Lasse Thoresen, Olav Anton Thommessen and Henrik Hellstenius. He was composer-in-residence with Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra for the 2006-2008 seasons, and in the 2012-2013 season Matre was selected by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra as their featured composer. He has distinguished himself as a distinct voice in Norwegian music, and has been awarded high- profile commissions by leading performers, ensembles and orchestras.

Matre belongs to a generation of Norwegian composers who early in their career explored and adopted the large orchestral format. In his breakthrough composition Four miniatures for orchestra Matre elegantly addresses the contrast between the orchestra and the strong tradition of the miniature in the short history of Norwegian art music.

In Atem for sinfonietta (2007), the instrumentation is reminiscent perhaps of that in Gérard Pesson or the later instrumental works of Gérard Grisey. When Matre quotes other works it is often in the form of brief glimpses – precise, yet nonetheless so gentle and delicate that they seem to appear as if by chance.

Händel Mixtapes (2008) sees the reappearance of a conceptual approach where quotations from the music of Handel are subjected to actual and figurative sampling, as they become gradually riddled by Matre’s orchestral parasites. Sampling techniques take a new direction in …but I must have said this before (2010) for trombone and ensemble, recorded by Ensemble Ernst in 2015, where Matre turns to quoting his own work.

Ørjan Matre’s clarinet concerto Inside Out (2010) presents a clearly defined material related to Atem, but gives it a larger body of sound and nuanced, translucent orchestral textures. Matre was awarded TONO’s Edvard Prize for this work, which was recorded by Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and clarinetist Rolf Borch in 2012.

The engagement with Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra resulted in the large-scale Konsert for orkester (2014), recorded by the orchestra in 2017, in which the opening work preSage (2013), also written for the Oslo Philharmonic, is woven together with excerpts from the Violin Concerto (2014) and expanded into a multi-movement work lasting a whole evening. The scale and scope of the work challenges our conception of the “concerto” form – yet another ambitious conceptual project that Matre manages to land safely thanks to his thorough craftsmanship.

Despite the fact that Matre repeatedly puts his compositional skills to the test with finely-wrought textures and risk-taking instrumentation, or by introducing quotations, instruments and playing techniques that challenge established musical preconceptions, his meticulous approach has led to repeated performances and a growing international audience.

Text: Hild Borchgrevink 2018
Translation: Andrew Smith 2018

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