Composer: Csaba Zoltán Marján
Duration: 8 min.
Every year a competition is held in Debrecen for the percussion and brass students of Hungarian music academies. This piece was composed for that event in 2010 as an obligatory piece in the 2. round at the request of Prof. István Szabó, the Head of the Percussion and Brass Department.
The piece is about 7-8 minutes and contains several virtuosic, fast and furious sections which require technical facility and stamina from the performer. On the other hand, it consists of numerous passages in which the musical skills of the performer can be expressed. The key of the piece is to find the right characters and the right tempos which are in constant change. The articulation of the phrases is also very important. Even if the piece, apart from a few passages, moves in a perpetual motion of sixteenth notes that flow continuously from the beginning to the end, there are different tempos and atmospheres to be shown.
The title Niflheim is a place of eternal cold, darkness and fog in the Norse Mythology located in the underworld. According to extant sources, it was one of the two primordial realms, the other one was Muspelheim, the realm of fire. Between these two realms of cold and heat, creation began.
About the composer +
Csaba Zoltán Marján was born in Nyíregyháza, Hungary in 1983. He started to play the piano at age of 8. In 1998 he was admitted to the Secondary School of Art Nyíregyháza where he began his percussion studies with Csaba Joó. He continued his studies under the guidance of István Szabó at the University of Debrecen Faculty of Music and obtained his Master Degree in Percussion Performance and Teaching in 2007. He played in numerous orchestras such as the Debrecen Symphonic Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Helsinki Radio Symphonic Orchestra and the Avanti! Chamber Music Ensemble. He is currently employed by the Budafoki Dohnányi Ernő Symphonic Orchestra (Budapest) and is studying Music Performance/Percussion at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki at the same time.
He won the following prizes: 1st prize in 2005, 3rd prize in 2004, 2nd prize/special award in 2003 at the National University Brass & Percussion Solo Competition in Hungary.
During his university studies Mr. Marján was a member of the SONUS Percussion Ensemble. The main purpose of this group was to perform and to popularize the contemporary music for percussion. This ensemble performed at a number of festivals and concerts in Hungary and abroad as well. At this time Mr. Marján started to be interested in composing and he made several transcriptions for this chamber ensemble. After these transcriptions he has decided to work on his own musical ideas. His first composition was born in 2008 for solo marimba.
For more information please visit the composers website www.csabamarjan.com
Review (Percussive Notes, May (59) 2012)
Composed as an obligatory piece for the 2010 brass and percussion competition in Debrecen, Hungary, this captivating work for solo marimba successfully blends technically virtuosic passages with rich musical content. The title, “Niflheim,” is a place of eternal cold, darkness, and fog located in the underworld of Norse mythology.
After a brief opening flourish, the piece begins with a perpetual string of sixteenth notes that can be heard throughout most of this seven-and-ahalf minute work. Utilizing a variety of accents, diverse time signatures, and frequent tempo changes, the continuous rhythmic content becomes the vehicle for forward motion rather than a primary focus of the listener. The opening energy continues virtually uninterrupted for the first 90 seconds before gradually slowing into a musically rich passage primarily consisting of rolls and broken arpeggiated figures, still based heavily on continuous sixteenth notes. The piece continues alternating between faster passages of aggressive sixteenth-note lines, dissonant double-vertical strokes, and rubato sections of more tonal lyrical lines and arpeggios. According to the composer, “The key of the piece is to find the right characters and the right tempos” as the performer progresses through the work.
“Niflheim” is a challenging, technical work spanning nearly the full range of a 4.5-octave marimba. It employs advanced four-mallet technique with rapid passages including double-vertical octaves in both hands and extensive chromaticism. Rarely is the performer given an opportunity to settle into a continuous groove, as the pulse and feel are constantly manipulated. Additionally, the dynamic demands of the piece range from very soft and lyrical to extremely loud and aggressive. Only a mature player will be able to successfully present both the musical and technical elements of this picturesque work, but it would be very appropriate for graduate or professional marimba recitals.
Front Cover graphics and layout: Ronni Kot Wenzell
Engraving: Csaba Zoltán Marján & Johan Svitzer
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
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