Ambrosian Delights

 

Description

Ambrosian Delights, a concerto for Knifonium and Baroque orchestra (2013) is a crossover work that combines the subtle Baroque period instruments with the grooving new retro tube analogue synthesiziser, Knifonium. The 27-minute work consists of four attacca movements. The piece is also available as an arrangement for Knifonium and a standard contemporary chamber orchestra (2015).

The opening passage, Fat and Filth, offers an energetic and expressive beginning to the concerto. It uses the Knifonium’s low-frequency oscillator feature that creates different kinds of vibratos at different speeds. The composer’s choice, an extremely fast and wide vibrato, creates a chordal tremolo effect that is further intensified by tuning the instrument’s two voltage-controlled oscillators in parallel intervals. The trembling sound field of the Knifonium is gradually reduced to unisono, after which the ‘outrageous & filthy qualities’ of the Knifonium start to become dominant, eventually taking over the whole orchestra and leading to a Knifonium cadenza that continues attacca to the second movement – the subtle and fragile Ambrosian Delights.

The shakuhachi-like treatment of traversos, the overtone-searching Knifonium, the natural harmonics of the strings and the multiphonics of the reeds propel  the affective and transparent Ambrosian Delights towards the third movement, Passacaglia.

For the Knifonium soloist, the instructions for the third movement are simple: find the deepest, richest bass sound possible and fiddle around with the low register showing your sincerest and deepest respect for the great bass masters of the past and present and have fun. The ever-changing bass line under the stable harmonic sequence leads to a ten-minute finale, More is More.

The maximalist More is More has an exceptionally wide aesthetic scale ranging from uncompromizing modernism to grooving jazz and progressive rock. The jazz-improvisation-associated Knifonium instrumental solo leads to the finale’s last passage, which pushes the Baroque instruments to their limits. The concerto ends with a laconic request “as vigorously as humanly possible”, completing the piece with a climax.

With Ensemble Ambrosius’ Frank Zappa arrangements in the late 90’s, Olli Virtaperko already showed that the similarities between the performance practices of early music and those of contemporary popular music could be turned into fresh and relevant new musical expression. However, Ambrosian Delights goes a step further by successfully combining a full Baroque orchestra with a purely synthetic instrument – something that never happened in Ensemble Ambrosius’s ‘authentic’ period instrument instrumentation. However, according to Virtaperko, Ambrosian Delights owes a great deal to Ensemble Ambrosius: “The intensive laboratory work we did with our Zappa arrangements proved to us that on very rare occasions it is possible to combine successfully two independent musical languages and create a balanced, true synthesis of the two. But it requires a huge amount of knowledge of those musical worlds that you intend to combine, otherwise you end up producing just utter bullshit. My history as a performing musician consists mostly of playing Baroque cello in early music ensembles, as well as in Ensemble Ambrosius and singing in the rock group Ultra Bra. Both of those experiences have been crucial for me in creating an understanding of how things work in those two seemingly separate musical universes. I feel that something like Ambrosian Delights was always there for me waiting to be written out and, thanks to Jonte Knif’s wonderful new instrument, this intention was finally turned into action.”

FIBO
Score + Knifonium


Instrumentation

for Knifonium solo and Baroque orchestra (in 415 Hz)

2013

2 traversos (1st doubling piccolo traverso)

2 baroque oboes (2nd doubling baroque oboe d’amore and oboe da caccia)

Baroque bassoon (doubling oboe da caccia)

Harpsichord, chamber organ and celesta/celestette or claviature glockenspiel (one player, three instruments – the part can optionally be realized with Roland C-30 digital harpsichord)

Percussion

Strings (3.3.2.2.1)

Knifonium soloist

for Knifonium solo and chamber orchestra (in 440-442 Hz)

2015

Flute (doubling piccolo)
Oboe
Clarinet (in Bb)
Horn (in F)
Bassoon

Harpsichord, chamber organ and celesta/celestette or claviature glockenspiel (one player, three instruments – the part can optionally be realized with Roland C-30 digital harpsichord)

Percussion

Strings (3.3.2.2.1)

Knifonium soloist

for Knifonium solo and sinfonietta (in 440-442 Hz)

2016

Flute (doubling piccolo)
Oboe
Clarinet (in Bb)
Horn (in F)
Bassoon

Harpsichord, chamber organ and celesta/celestette or claviature glockenspiel (one player, three instruments – the part can optionally be realized with Roland C-30 digital harpsichord)

Percussion

Strings (6.6.4.3.2)

Knifonium soloist


Press quotes

“Olli Virtaperko’s concerto for Knifonium was a major event. Ambrosian Delights turned out to be a great piece of music. In his quest to combine the musical worlds of the Knifonium and the Baroque orchestra Virtaperko perfectly succeeded.”

– Jukka Isopuro, Helsingin Sanomat 9 August 2013

”The marrige of the mighty Knifonium and Jyväskylä Sinfonia resulted music that was both beautiful and modern.”

– Jemo Kettunen, Keskisuomalainen 23 October 2015

 

Score

Ambrosian Delights original version

Ambrosian Delights Chamber Orchestra version

Ambrosian Delights Sinfonietta version


Audio

Ambrosian Delights i-iii
(Jonte Knif, FIBO, cond. Ville Matvejeff)

Ambrosian Delights iv
(Jonte Knif, FIBO, cond. Ville Matvejeff)


Video

 


Details

Duration 27’30”

Movements

I Fat & Filth – Cadenza  8’ (attacca)
II Ambrosian Delights 5’ (attacca)
III Passacaglia 4’30’’ (attaca)
IV More is More 10’

First performance

7 August 2013
BRQ Vantaa Festival
Jonte Knif, Knifonium soloist with Finnish Baroque Orchestra FIBO, cond. Ville Matvejeff
The Church of St. Lawrence, Vantaa, Finland

Commissioned by Finnish Baroque Orchestra FIBO

Published by Music Finland