Cantus Ansambl

20 for 20 premiere No. 7 - music by MarkoRuždjak interpreted by Jasen Chelfi


Marko Ruždjak: Noćni divan - Jasen Chelfi, violoncello

The 20 for 20 series continues with a cello piece by the doyen of Croatian music, academician Marko Ruždjak (1946 – 2012). As a composer who strived to overcome and reconcile the world of music with that which surrounds us, he often went an extra mile in his music, communicating with the world, while remaining true to his artistic habitus. The coexistence of differences in composing aesthetics of the 20th century is summed up in Ruždjak's sage and authentic writing throughout his entire diverse opus, equally present in large orchestral or choral forms, as in his chamber and solo compositions like the one presented here.

„Compositions like Classical Garden for string quartet, Your Lebanon and Mine for soprano, reciter, and percussion, as well as the symbolic diptych Versus and Yours Truly presented Ruždjak’s idiosyncratic approach to art that, although based in sound, goes beyond the notion of musical and its possible limitations”, writes Tomislav Oliver, musicologist and composer, and more importantly, Marko Ruždjak’s student. He adds that Ruždjak’s music, taking up the space between the intellect and emotion, is one of the rare composers’ aesthetics that poses questions, while leaving the anguish around answers to the performer and the listener.

Ten years before the founding of Cantus Ensemble, in 1991, Ruždjak composed Nighttime Converse for cello, a piece that Oliver describes as “the point in which his (often contrasting) composing perspectives from the eighties, an important period for him, came together. Some elements that are typical for Ruždjak come to the fore: the introspective lyricism, changeability, and elusiveness of the material, a transparent form that hides its multiple layers. The main part of the composition consists of two contrasting musical ideas that avoid confrontation, so the dramaturgy lies in the gestures of reduction and repetition, refinement, stylization, and deformation of particular elements whose clear contours finally shape the piece.”

A member of the original Cantus Ensemble and member of its core setting, cellist Jasen Chelfi is a long-term first cello of the Zagreb Philharmonic, where he also performed as a soloist. Entering the 21st year of the ensemble, Chelfi reflects on his experience, noting it allowed him to „widen the horizons, encounter the new, gifting us with many unforgettable experiences impossible to tell in a single story“. During many concert seasons, many guest performances, and travels around the world, they had to meet many musical challenges. At the same time, they were given opportunities to sing, yell, dance ballet, and even perform a football duel on stage. Listening and performing the Nighttime Converse means accepting the possibility that Ruždjak's music cannot be fully understood. One can rather propose a mental dialogue and accept that, as with all great questions, as Oliver said, it will remain charmingly unattainable.


Watch and listen to Jasen's performance on Monday, July 12 at 8 pm, on the YouTube channel of the Croatian Composers' Society:

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Concert cycle Cantus Ansambl is supported by City of Zagreb and international activities by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.