Nemtsov: Mountain & Maiden at Ultraschall Berlin

Nemtsov: Mountain & Maiden at Ultraschall Berlin

Mountain & Maiden, a new composition by Sarah Nemtsov – the first ricordilab winner to be signed by the publisher – has its world premiere on 18 January at the Ultraschall Berlin 2020 - Festival für Neue Musik. "Mountain & Maiden is a documentary film by Shmuel Hoffman and Anton von Heiseler about a ten-year-old girl from New Delhi. Aaspiya doesn’t go to school – she collects rubbish. Yet she appears to be a happy child, alert and intelligent." (Nemtsov)

Mountain & Maiden (2019)

film by Shmuel Hoffman & Anton von Heiseler with composition by Sarah Nemtsov
for keyboard solo (with amplified piano and voice)
Duration: ca. 23'
WP: 18.01.2020, Berlin

Screenshot from documentary film Mountain & Maiden
Screenshot from Mountain & Maiden

Recalling the silent-film tradition, Mountain & Maiden is accompanied by a keyboard (with additional amplified piano). “I have created 88 samples for the keyboard corresponding to the 88 keys: some of them are manipulations of soundtrack material received from the film makers, others are electronic sounds, field recordings or alienated internet finds. The sounds are coordinated with the film, at times complementing it, but also contrasting or intermingled with the concert grand (including some Schubert reminiscences – to which the title also alludes: “Death and the Maiden”)." (Nemtsov)

In a public discussion a day after the world premiere, Sarah Nemtsov and Helgard Haug, a co-founder of the renowned theatre group Rimini Protokoll, will talk about death as a major topic in the arts and music.

More information here about the performances of works by Sarah Nemtsov and other UMPC composers.

Teaser of Mountain & Maiden

Composer note

"A special virtuosity is called for as the pianist must swerve back and forth between the keyboard while always keeping an eye on the screen image and sporadically also bringing in excerpts from an interview with the girl and translating them simultaneously. This is, of course, absurd. The whole thing – a concert grand in front of waste disposal dump – is absurd, the lives of these people for us is unimaginable. Occasionally we see poetic images in the film, nebulous gases; these vapours are in fact completely toxic, so the film makers could only work with gas masks. The people living there go without any protection. 40% of the children suffer from respiratory diseases. To some extent, our waste – along with our responsibility – also lands on this rubbish dump. The Ultraschall Berlin festival commissioned me to write a solo piano work (for the pianist Christoph Grund). It has now turned into something else, an artistic gamble. My hope for this project is that we will be able to help raise people’s awareness."
Text by Sarah Nemtsov (printed in Tagesspiegel, 29.12.2019)

Photos: Anton von Heiseler/Shmuel Hoffman