After a one and a half hour journey from Bergen airport the “Hardangerfjord Express Boat” sails into harbour – a small village set in a green valley below the dramatic mountains that rise steeply behind it.
Here in 1661 Ludwig Rosenkrantz and his young wife Karen began to create a lavish manor house and garden which they called Rosendal and, in 1678, their estate was to be given the unique status of the only Barony in Norway by King Christian V of Denmark and Norway. Today the house and its beautifully kept gardens offer visitors a glimpse of Norwegian history in one of the country’s most spectacular natural settings.
For pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, this is the perfect location for a new chamber music festival which he launched in August 2016 together with the inauguration of a new concert hall at Baroniet Rosendal Manor House and Gardens. Alongside performances in the manor house itself, the four day festival features concerts on the new stage – a concert hall with 400 seats, converted from an original barn on the estate. Additional evening concerts take place in the white-washed 13th century Kvinnherad church whilst lectures and open discussions are offered during the day.
Leif Ove Andsnes has been a regular visitor and performer in Rosendal for over 20 years. His first concert was in 1992 and since 1995 he has performed at the manor house at least once every summer. “Baroniet Rosendal is a very special place” he commented “and music has been a part of its cultural life for generations. Its incredible to think that artists and musicians have been crossing the fjord for over three hundred years and amongst them were apparently both Edvard Grieg and Ole Bull – our Bergen musical legends.”
The “Great Hall” (Riddersalen) at Rosendal is one of the most intimate venues in the world to offer an optimum environment for musical enjoyment with acoustical enhancement from a Constellation system provided by Meyer Sound of Berkeley, California.
Constellation instantly transforms the elongated barn – a structure never intended to serve as a concert hall – into an acoustical space ideal for hosting chamber music. The main challenge with Riddersalen lies in the dimensions of the building, which is long enough but too narrow and lacking in sufficient volume to function acoustically for chamber music. By applying advanced acoustic engineering coupled with the latest in high-resolution digital signal processing, Constellation widens the perceived aural space and creates a rich, immersive acoustical ambience.
Constellation does not directly amplify the instruments. Instead, it captures the natural acoustical environment of the hall and subtly modifies the surrounding acoustical characteristics. The entire reverberation envelope can be precisely tailored to the acoustical requirements of the performance.
“Experiencing Constellation for the first time opened my eyes and ears. I really had to rethink a lot of my perceptions – when I heard how excellent it sounded and how the acoustic could be transformed, I said to myself…this is the future.” Leif Ove Andsnes
“It was amazing … The possibilities seem limitless” Christian Tetzlaff
The Constellation system at Riddersalen has three basic components. Thirty-four microphones are spaced around the hall to sense the natural ambient acoustics. The microphone signals are sent to a sophisticated, high-resolution digital signal processing system which applies patented computer algorithms to create enhanced acoustical characteristics. The output signals are sent to 145 small loudspeakers spaced around the room, which together emulate the effect of reflective surfaces placed at the ideal distance and angles from the musical performance.
The Constellation system was specified by the acoustical consulting firm of Brekke & Strand and installed by systems integrator Bright Norway. Design and calibration was led by John Pellowe of Meyer Sound’s own Constellation team in collaboration with Brekke and Strand.
Other Constellation systems in Norway are now in use at the Fosnavåg Konserthus and the Peer Gynt Hall of Grieghallen in Bergen. In fact, it was the Fosnavåg Konserthus that inspired Leif Ove Andsnes to investigate Constellation for Rosendal: “Experiencing Constellation for the first time opened my eyes and ears, I really had to rethink a lot of my perceptions – when I heard how excellent it sounded and how the acoustic could be transformed, I said to myself…this is the future.”
Elsewhere in the world, Constellation creates acoustical ambience for the Svetlanov Hall in Moscow, San Francisco Symphony’s SoundBox, and Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.
Meyer Sound systems can be found in concert halls, opera houses, and museums all over the world. Major cultural institutions using a variety of Meyer Sound systems for voice and incidental music reinforcement include the Musikverein in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and Konzerthaus Berlin.
“With Constellation, the Meyers have thus had a democratizing influence, allowing ensembles to obtain pleasing results in problematic spaces. They have helped to make classical music a more mobile, adaptable beast, one that is freer to roam the entire cultural landscape. A mirage of the Musikverein can arise almost anywhere, with a few swipes on a screen.” Alex Ross, Music Critic – The New Yorker
Despite all the wonderful chamber music Mozart wrote, only a few pieces are regularly performed in chamber music festivals. So I would like 2017 to be an intense Mozart celebration in which we perform not only the really famous works – such as the Clarinet Quintet and Piano Quartet no. 1 – but also show the diversity of Mozart’s extraordinary music. How often does one actually hear his great string quartets and quintets or his piano sonatas in concert, or when did you last hear his pieces for two pianos or his lieder?”
“An ingenious aspect of Mozart’s music is his innate understanding of each instrument he writes for. He really knew the strength of how a clarinet, viola or any other instrument could sound. So I have asked several of this year’s guest musicians to pick out 20th century solo works that also show the real expression of their instrument including Ligeti’s Sonata for viola (1991 – 94), Esa Pekka Salonen’s Yta III (1987) for cello, Olav Berg’s Vertigo (1992) for bassoon, Takemitsu’s Entre Temps (1986) for oboe and strings, and Ravel’s Sonata for violin and piano (1923 – 27). A major highlight will be Messiaen’s deeply moving Quartet for the End of Time (1941) which will be the focus of a concert in its own right. Together – as both musicians and audience – we look forward to delving into this wealth of repertoire in what is a uniquely, perfect setting for chamber music – Rosendal.
– Leif Ove Andsnes
Summa summarum har Leif Ove Andsnes funnet en usedvanlig spennende stall av musikere, og det er nærmest absurd å tenke at disse samles på et lite sted som Baroniet Rosendal.
“In addition to the intelligence of its programming and the high level of its performers, the festival benefits from what is often lacking in the most exclusive of locations: authenticity and atmosphere - truly magical.”
“Rosendal simply must be experienced”
“This is a Utopian place for Utopian musicians.”
“I langhelga som var, ble det staselige Baroniet i Rosendals intenst vakre landskap fylt av musikk. Og ikke en hvilken som helst musikk, men av kammermusikk av ypperste slag.”
“Med den nye salen og Andsnes drivkraft og stjernestatus har Rosendal Kammermusikk fått en pangstart. “
“Mozart in paradise … Leif Ove Andsnes and a group of extraordinary musicians immersed themselves in the genius of the composer in a small but big festival in the wilds of Norway.”
“Rosendalfestivalen solgte ut alle billetene på et par dager i vinter. Oppskriften er enkel: Kammermusikalsk kjernestoff, uten sviskeappell og med et modig innslag av samtidsmusikk.”
“Intelligent formidling og enestående musikere får den klassiske musikken til å skinne i Rosendal”
“A Festival which is both intimate and full of character, idyllic and with depth.”
The Rosendal Chamber Music Festival extends deep thanks to the Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Foundation, whose meaningful financial support has made the festival’s ambitious artistic goals attainable.