Matej Bonin Kaleidoscope (2012) for Ensemble

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Orchestration: flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon – horn, trumpet, trombone – percussion, piano – strings

When Matej Bonin began working on his piece Kaleidoscope, he wondered why he himself could relate so little to myths. Why does he not believe in myths and the fact that myths can nowadays still actually provide a nation with a common origin? In today´s Slovenia no mythological events are passed on, on the contrary, various ideals are propagated. And according to Bonin, these ideals do not serve the national cohesion, but the interest of individual groups, above all political parties and lobby organizations. Bonin´s observation could be summarized as follows: the myths have been overtaken by the communication society by now. The younger generation, however, feels a growing disorientation. A common idea, to which they could feel the appeal to devote themselves, is missing.

Bonin strives to create a situation in which various materials compete with each other as a symbol of propagated ideals in his piece Kaleidoscope. Bonin even speaks of mutually contradicting and negating material levels. In the wind instruments there are initially and consistently sounding swelling low sounds that start with pianissimo, rise up in fortissimo and then again, almost dal niente, they die away. In the strings, on the other hand, the material is highly fragmented; the results are isolated and they can be at best understood as a part of a sparkling mosaic. The piano and percussion also contribute with rather point-like sound complexes.

There is not a conflict or even a competition going on at the moment, in which one sound level wins over another one. Bonin would rather like to create a situation in which conflicting ideas coexist together. It certainly plays a role here that there seems to be a clear consensus between the otherwise different materials on the structural level. The interval combinations are for example always similar; there can be often heard dissonant intervals, minor seconds, major seconds and the tritone. The tone pair D – A-flat can be heard at the beginning in several groups of instruments. The tonal space is measured by means of many minor seconds and major sevenths and besides by all instruments in semitones, therefore chromatically.

In the further course of the piece both material levels penetrate each other increasingly. The point-like events in the strings are stretched and augmented and they even turn into lying, swelling events. The winds, on the other hand, let the long notes pulsate and at the same time they move the meters against each other in such a way that a shimmering, trembling brass section is formed. There are perfectly perforated passages, in which all instruments are limited to short fragmented sound combinations, and then again completely quiet moments, in which the entire ensemble gets together as a slowly breathing organism. Bonin also very rarely creates unexpected pairings, such as the first fermata, in which the clarinet with its microtonal discoloured tone rubs itself against the second violin with a trill.

Bonin says that he did not write the piece in order to express his discomfort with the unsatisfactory political situation in Slovenia, but rather with the wish to discover something beautiful, fundamental and simple in everything. Therefore, there is not a redeeming synthesis between the materials; the inconsistency of ideas remains.

Matej Bonin was born in 1986 in Koper, a port town on the Slovenian Adriatic coast. He completed his studies of composition in 2011 at the Music Academy in Ljubljana with Uroš Rojko.

In October 2007, his piece for the woodwind quintet Daleč od blizu (Far from Close, 2007) – a composition commission of the Slowind Quintetts – was premiered at the Festival of Contemporary Music Slowind in Ljubljana; further performances in Italy (Milan, Monza) and France (Paris) followed.

At the International Biennale of Contemporary Music in Koper he presented his music in a recital evening. For the Salzburg Dance Festival „Move Against It. Meet Again“ Bonin composed in 2010 the music to the contemporary dance work Islands in the fog. In the same year, his work One Man Band (2010) was first performed in Ljubljana by the Slovenian accordionist Luka Juhart, in 2011 in Austria as well (Klagenfurt). For his compositional work he received in 2008 the Prešeren Award from the University of Ljubljana.
Björn Gottstein works as a freelance journalist about contemporary and electronic music. He lives in Berlin.

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