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Work Information

Hans Abrahamsen : Stratifications

Publisher Wilhelm Hansen
Sub-Category Large Orchestra
Year Composed
Duration 8 Minutes
Availability Hire  Explain this...

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Full Score(s) WH29689

Programme Note

'Stratifications' was composed in the period 1973-75 and was premiered in the summer 1977 by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra at the Young Nordic Music Festival in Reykjavik.

The stratifications referred to in the title unfold two different levels. There is the stratification of the time dimension produced by the opposition of contrasting parts; at the same time the polyphony, the presence of several simultaneously sounding layers, is of great importance to the music. By garish colours and clear-cut outlines a polyrhythmic simultaneousness of simple melodies is produced with more gestic music and other material which give a peculiar 'set piece-like' effect in the sound picture. The 'new simplicity' details are here woven together in a new kind of complex whole.
'Stratifications' begins with a series of concretistic masklike 'pictures of the music'. It is like seeing lantern slides. But this 'fictive' form crackles and the music gets attentive and real. The music is in a night-mare condition, where it is not getting anywhere in spite of a great dynamic display. But finally is liberating itself and rising 'in triumph'.


  • Stratifications (1975) firmly gives the lie to any idea that the New Simplicity movement, of which Abrahamsen was a leading voice, was without a corresponding complexity
    Richard Whitehouse, International record review, 31/08/2005
  • Although he (Abrahamsen, ed.) began as an exponent of New Simplicity, even the early Stratifications is densely layered and complexly conceived
    Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, 22/02/2005
  • It was a joy to hear Abrahamsens nearly thirty years old "Stratifications" again... especially because it still sounds so fresh
    Søren H. Schauser, Berlinske Tidende, 03/03/2003


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