Pantomime – Papillons for piano and ensemble is a part of the trilogy Papillons. Pantomime consists additionally of the Piano Quintet Rosenbad and of Mignon for Piano and String Orchestra.
In principle the piano part is identical in all three works, but the order of the seven movements common to all three works is different, and so is the music accompanying the piano part. In a way there is something film-like about the way the three works relate to one another. On the one hand the trilogy may be seen or heard as the same story (the piano part) told in three different ways. Alternatively the works may be perceived as three completely different stories told by the same person – the pianist).
The title came to me (as it usually does) as soon as I started working on the piece. Images from silent movies and mime theatre turned up at the same moment as the piano at the start plays tunes based on sound of the strings.
Pantomime is commissioned by the Esbjerg Ensemble and the Bergen International Festival, and is dedicated to Katrine Gislinge and the Esbjerg Ensemble.
The story of how Carl Nielsen's Wind Quintet came into being is legendary in Denmark. Over the phone Nielsen heard the Wind Quintet of the Royal Danish Orchestra rehearsing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante and immediately wanted to write his own. The result was a work of Mozartian elegance, with a minuet and a variation movement echoing Mozart's Clarinet Quintet.
In this concert Nielsen's Quintet merges with Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 12 in A major, enjoying the reflected glory of the music that Nielsen loved above all else. In the sixth movement of Pantomime I enjoy sporadic reflections of the wonderful second movement of Mozart's Concerto. An ethereal allusion, twinkling over and over again, but remaining a mere twinkle.
Text: Bent Sørensen
English version: Roger Martin