The name and music of Ruben Sverre Gjertsen surfaced internationally in 2006 when his work ‘Circles’ was commissioned and performed by Pierre Boulez and the Luzern Festival Academy. Gjertsen’s beautiful scores have now inspired BIT20 Ensemble and conductor Pierre-André Valade to record seven of his pieces for this highly virtuosic CD release.
Ruben Sverre Gjertsen’s (b. 1977) music revolves around rubbing, rasping, scratching sounds. Sometimes these rough, grainy sounds are violent and intense; at other times they are fragile and tender, or sparkling and transparent. As a student Ruben was fascinated by Roland Barthes’ classic essay “The grain of the voice”. Barthes explains how much a singer’s personality, the ‘grain of the voice’, means to him as a listener. Who possesses that special presence, and who does not? This wordless communication originates in the singer’s body – language, text and style cannot replace the ‘it’ that we search for in any major performance.
A hunt for intimacy
Ruben’s notation is part of this hunt for intimacy: the sounds demand a physical and mental contribution from each individual musician in order to be redeemed from the printed page. The performer is required to make priorities. The most important requirement is to create intimacy rather than distance in order for the music to function. The virtuosic demands made on the musicians’ involvement also lend the music an element of visual staging, almost like an enigmatic ritual act.
‘Gamelan Terrains’ was commissioned by BIT20 and premiered at the Bergen Festival in 2009. The ensemble is very proud to contribute with this recording of one of Norway’s young and successful composers. BIT20 Ensemble was founded in Bergen, Norway in 1989. Consisting of 15 musicians, the ensemble has commissioned and premiered nearly 100 works and released 23 albums. BIT20 is regarded as one of the foremost Nordic contemporary music ensembles. The ensemble has performed at many major international venues for contemporary music, including Festival Agora (IRCAM Centre Pompidou, France), Festival Précences (Radio France), Soundstreams (Canada), Transart (Italy), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, at the Barbican Centre (England), and in Moscow and St Petersburg (Russia). BIT20 has also appeared at major Norwegian festivals – Ultima, Borealis, Ilios and the Bergen International Festival.