Wald for Ensemble was composed by Hans Abrahamsen in 2008-09. Co-commission by the Schönberg Ensemble and BBC for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
Programme note by the composer:
Wald is, in a way, a series of variations from the beginning of my woodwind quintet Walden (1978). This thematical idea is very simple - a rising call of a fourth and the response in other voices. This idea is repeated several times, but because the call has a slower pulse than the responses, the process leads to them changing order.
In Walden I borrowed the title from the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau, who, in the middle of the eighteenth century, in a little wooden hermit house at the bank of the lake Walden pond, wrote the book Walden of his life and time in the forests. Here he experimented living for two years in order to come closer to nature and to see if it was possible to live simply without all the unnecessary needs created by society. The book is filled with poetry, but is also cutting and critical of society. In my piece Walden, I tried to search for the same simplicity, handling the most simple material, but at the same time trying not to lose the poetry.
Wald is a twin piece to Walden, but also to my former piece Schnee.
Robert Schumann wrote in 1848-49 a wonderful piano piece, Waldszenen. He wrote this collection of short pieces with beautiful titles like Einsame Blumen, Vogel als Prophet and also Jäger auf der Lauer, just a few years before Thoreau wrote his book Walden. For them the forest is the magical romantic place that gives a spiritual insight to man, but also from where we get our food through hunting. For me the forest still has this magical quality and Wald has scenes with a hunting horn that calls (I many years ago played the magical "Waldhorn" and remember playing in the forest near my home), flocks of birds that when agitated take off, and there is also the sense of a hunt followed by galloping horses.