Niels Marthinsen's Symphony No. 2 - Snapshot Symphony (2009).
1st movement Fiesta Mexicana: fortissimo accelerando (ca. 6 minutes)
2nd movement Arabian Nights: adagio intensivo e furioso (ca. 11 minutes)
3rd movement Great Fireworks in China: giocoso esplosivo e marcatissimo (ca. 8 minutes)
I’ve never been to Mexico and Arabia, or to China. But I love the way those countries sound in Hollywood movies and in pop culture generally: When Clint Eastwood rides south of the border, when Disney’s Alladin or Mulan takes me far east, when arabic pop music roars past me out of the open windows of a car... and bull fighter music, and the sound of acrobatic beat-em-up’s in John Woo’s Hong Kong karate movies – and so on: powerful images splashed all over my eye balls and ear drums.
My recollections of this ethnic-pop-film-music has turned itself into a symphony. And I don’t even have to just remember what I have heard: A few internet clicks gives me access to incredible sound libraries containing live-and-kicking ethnic music from my three favorite countries, just waiting to be put together in new combinations and energize my personal imagery.
The symphony is like a huge slide show – musical snapshots from my travels in the western pop culture versions of three exotic locations: Mexico, Arabia, and China – original and popular melodies welded together by my personal musical language and associations. I use all the effects of modern pling-plong-music plus a few of my own inventions to create a spectacular contemporary orchestral sound sporting a bee hive of melodies from either East or West, played simultaneously, in different keys and differents tempos at once while kept firmly in place by a vivacious dancing rhythm.
Snapshot Symphony is in three movements.
Fiesta Mexicana is a red-hot, chili-pepper-burning mariachi band mosaic – Mexican festival music arranged in ever faster tempo and mixed up with potent bull fighter trumpet fanfares.
Arabian Nights takes place at the edge of a modern Arabian city - just as the night begins where the city ends, and the desert unfolds. Ancient music about the sands of Arabia blends in with belly dancer music, and modern middle east pop from inside the houses gradually takes over as the starry night becomes too cool to stay out in.
Great Fireworks in China is exactly that: A tremendous fireworks of Chinese melodies in a virtuoso high-octane orchestral overflow: Flaming Dragons, Air Bombs, Glowing Vulcanoes, White Snakes... spectacular good fortune rockets scaring off the evil spirits.
The three movements may be performed seperately – but they hang tightly together. Along with the abundance of melodies from Mexico, Arabia, and China goes an intense personal music coming from within myself, and developing symphonically throughout the entire duration of the Snapshot Symphony: Images of something more private – like emotional close-ups of facial expressions in complete strangers, captured by chance in a holiday snapshot – and revealing feelings one recognizes in oneself.