«Night Will Fade and Fall Apart» is a new chamber composition by Swedish composer Magnus Granberg, a self-taught composer who founded his own ensemble Skogen and is known for operating at an intersection between improvisation and contemporary chamber music. The composition was commissioned by Thanatosis produktion in December 2020 and was written for the newly-formed Tya Ensemble the following year. It was conceived as an ensemble piece where individual parts also may be performed as solo pieces. The double alum features the full ensemble version plus four solos and a duo and was recorded at Atlantis Metronome in Stockholm in February 2022.
Granberg explains that this composition takes as its points of departure of songs from two very different times and places: «Tres gentil cuer and En l’amoureux vergier» by the French, late medieval composer Solage and the jazz standard «My Foolish Heart» by Victor Young and Ned Washington, whose lyrics were borrowed for its title (Granberg used before Irving Berlin’s standard «How Deep Is The Ocean?» as an inspiration for his 2015 composition «How Deep is the Ocean, How High is the Sky», another Timbre, 2015). The rhythmic elements of the piece are extracted from the songs of Solage and treated in different ways, and the harmonic materials are loosely derived from the jazz standard. The cover photo, Arthur S. Siegel’s «Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyards, Baltimore, Maryland. A night view looking toward the ways» captures the melancholic spirit of this composition.
«Night Will Fade and Fall Apart» is graced by poetic liner notes by David Sylvian who stresses the «meditative, haunting stillness» in Granberg’s work. «This is music for the twilight, the final rays, as our impaired vision of the solidity of things and their accompanying certainties, fall away. When describing Magnus’ working process I’ve a desire to flip Cage’s ‘purposeless play’ to ‘purposeful’. It appears to me Magnus knows the coordinates, the conditions under which his ship sails, certain he’ll recognize the destination as a mirror of his own guiding principles, welcoming elements of the unknown within the carefully prescribed parameters of his personal cartography».
This intricate and minimalist composition cleverly and organically integrate composition and subtle improvisation and its meditative and melancholic «haunting stillness» may be associated with the seminal influence that Morton Feldman had on Granberg. The 44-minute ensemble piece – featuring violinist Josefin Runsteen, cellist My Hellgren, percussionist Ryan Packard, guitarist Finn Loxbo, vibes player John Eriksson and pianist Anna Christensson – consists of seven sets of musical materials as well as a set of guidelines on how to treat and navigate (individually as well as collectively) the different materials. But Granberg allows the musicians to make their own personal choices, even subtle subversive and sound-oriented ones, as long as they are integrated into the inner logic and the reserved dramatic narrative of this enigmatic composition.
The solo pieces for percussion, violin, cello and guitar are short and expose the skeletal compositional elements of Granberg, and Runsteen and Loxbo’s pieces brilliantly capture its ripples-like motion. The 31-minute piece for piano and vibraphone deepens the meditative Feldman-esque elements of this composition and consists of the harmonic materials from all seven sets and may also be performed as solo or duo pieces for either instrument. Here it is presented as a «canon of chords». The piano presents the extensive «theme» before the vibraphone enters and the piece ends with the vibraphone playing the complete sequence of chords backward. The sparse and ethereal performance fits perfectly to Sylvian image of «impaired vision of the solidity of things and their accompanying certainties».
Josefin Runsteen (vio), My Hellgren (c), Ryan Packard (perc), Finn Loxbo (g), John Eriksson (vib), Anna Christensson (p)