Ensemble works about ice and forest

Abrahamsen's ensemble works Winternacht, Schnee and Wald can rightly be called a trilogy. They are about winter, forest, ice, nightly sleigh rides and romantic images. The composer himself calls Wald the twin sister of both Schnee and his earlier wind quintet Walden (1978). He took the title for Walden from the 1854 book of the same name by American author Henry David Thoreau, which describes his two-year stay in a cabin on the shore of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts.


Wald places Thoreau's back-to-nature thought in a German romantic framework. The title bridges the gap to Robert Schumann's Waldszenen piano cycle. For both Schumann and Thoreau, Abrahamsen writes, the forest is "the magical romantic place that leads man to spiritual insight." Wald, laced with German recitals, contains a real Nachtmusik and a hunting scene with galloping horses in a 19th-century spirit. The hunting horn call of a rising quarter, borrowed from Walden, must have grabbed the horn player Abrahamsen from the heart. He himself once went to the woods with a waldhorn to experience that magic for himself.