Tuesday / 19:00
Tuesday / 19:00

Rønsholdt – world premiere

Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio, ul. Modzelewskiego 59
Orchestral concertsoff-premisesFestival

A hallmark of human creativity is the tension between the pursuit of originality and the simultaneous reference to existing conventions – whether we are talking about the use of one’s own creations (self-reference) or the works of others (inspiration). The program of the concert, under the baton of British conductor, composer and arranger Christopher Austin, revolves exactly around this theme. The concert’s extremes are based on inspirations from the past. Ralph Vaughn Williams built his string fantasy on the theme of a hymn by Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis. Maurice Ravel, on the other hand, used the form of a Baroque dance suite to pay tribute to the master of the French harpsichord school of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The centerpiece of this unusual program will be two solo cello concertos performed by Jakob Kullberg. Robert Schumann’s Concerto is one of the ironclad concert repertoire and, along with the composer’s other works, became a source of formal solutions for Danish composer Niels Rønsholdt. His Cello Concerto No. 2 Western will have its world premiere in Warsaw. The piece is externally reminiscent of Schumann’s work: it lasts about 25 minutes and has an almost identical orchestral cast. Interesting whether other Schumann inspirations will be found in the new work by the composer known for his originality. Or will there be entirely different associations?


Jakob Kullberg cello
Sinfonia Varsovia
Christopher Austin conductor
Monika Pasiecznik host

Programme [130']

Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis [15′]
Robert Schumann Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 [25′]
I. Nicht zu schnell
II. Langsam
III. Sehr lebhaft




Niels Rønsholdt Western – Cello Concerto No. 2 (2024, world premiere) [25′]
1. Song I
2. Fiddle I
3. Fanfare I
4. Fiddle II
5. Song II
6. Fiddle III
7. Fanfare II
8. Fiddle IV
9. Hymn I
10. Fiddle V
11. Fiddle VI
12. Song III
13. Fiddle VII
14. Song IV
15. Fanfare III
16. Fiddle VIII
17. Fiddle IX
18. Song V
19. Hymn II
20. Fiddle X
21. Fanfare IV
Maurice Ravel Le Tombeau de Couperin in version for orchestra M.68a [17′]
I. Prélude: Vif
II. Forlane: Allegretto
III. Menuet: Allegro moderato
IV. Rigaudon: Assez vif


Composer’s note

My second cello concerto Western is a work of its own, but also a relative to my first one called Country. In very different ways, they both deal with identity, authenticity and belonging, and with America seen from the point of view of a European. Where Country is an outspoken work about the human relation to where we grow up and arrogance towards nature and others, Western is a more introvert and subtle reflection.

From the beginning, I set out to build this piece of music in a classical framework; to move in to the house that is the classical concerto and make it my home. I knew the piece was to be programmed with Robert Schumann’s iconic concerto. In some ways Schumann is like the forest to me – something beautiful that has been there for a long time, a kind of message from the past. Sometimes I ignore it, sometimes I give it my full attention. Also, Schumann is connected with the forest through his famous piece Waldszenen. One of the movements – Vogel als Prophet – has particularly meant a lot to me. The irregular rhythm of the melody and the way it jumps octaves to allude to a bird song has always attracted me greatly. That fascination has turned into a way of writing melodies – very fast, irregular ones that flicker by. A lot of the cello music in Western is like that.

Western is a reflection on – or maybe a result of – my own place in the world musically and culturally. The heritage of European classical music is deeply rooted in me and it constitutes an integral part of my daily life. On the other hand, I have felt the extreme cultural influence from American music throughout my life. I think I share this with cellist Jakob Kullberg, who commissioned Western: Even though we are classically trained, it is impossible to imagine our musical lives without the American influence of pop, jazz, blues, punk etc.

This concerto is also a container of distant personal memories. The Western movies I watched with my father, the afternoons spent reading Buddy Longway, the novels and stories about those who started new lives in the West, the images of the forests of the American Midwest where the Scandinavians went, Native American mythology in the schoolbooks, the shame of the colonial consequences, the hope of the emigrants, the brutality, the sand, the oil…

The first Danish immigrants in the USA were registered in the 1850 census, the same year Schumann wrote his famous cello concerto.

Western has 21 short movements divided into 4 types: Fiddle (10), Song (5), Hymn (2) and Fanfare (4)

– Niels Rønsholdt, April 2024