On 14 September Matthias Pintscher conducted the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Anders Hillborg’s new work for chamber orchestra Skysong at the Cité de la Musique in Paris. Skysong was commissioned by Vincent Meyer for Ensemble Intercontemporain. The performance is available to stream on the Radio France podcast here.

The work reflects Meyer’s love of aviation – he is a seasoned pilot – and the 22-minute piece, cast in fifteen short parts, summons surreal images of movement through air and atmosphere. The evocative titles for musical sections are much like those of Hillborg’s 2006 orchestral work Eleven Gates. Sequences evoke ‘Ascent’ and ‘Descent’; the work is punctuated by four ‘Currents’; one section is marked ‘Descending through flocks of chattering skycreatures’, and another titled ‘Skyflow’. The drama is heightened by its presentation on stage, with two pianos either side of the ensemble rippling material antiphonally. Hillborg discusses the piece in an interview with Ensemble Intercontemporain here.

In Diapason Anne Ibos-Augé said of Skysong:

…a contrasting universe exploring sound from every angle: increased, reduced, pushed, trumpeted, outlined, blurred, multiplied…the work is described by the composer as a “sound adventure through different landscapes”. The fifteen brief sections with evocative titles – including a literally teeming “Descending through flocks of chattering skycreatures” – generate a form in which recurrences and echoes of “already heard” are perceived. It is structured by cadential “Currents”, “Skystorms” with violent outbursts…where quivering sound material abounds.

Jérémie Bigorie wrote on ConcertoNet.com:

Hillborg's style has everything it needs to seduce…impeccable know-how, a perfect science of orchestration, and a palpable sense of pulse. So many of these qualities were present in Skysong…fluid writing that layers groundswells in the brass, scintillating, bubbling percussion, and bird-calls in the woodwinds.

On 19 October Sinfonieorchester Basel and Aziz Shokhakimov give the Swiss premiere of Hillborg’s 2018 work Sound Atlas, with its distinctive glass harmonica part, as part of a focus on his music. On 23 October Remix Ensemble conducted by Olari Elts give the Portuguese premiere of Vaporised Tivoli (2010) at the Casa da Música in Porto.