Ales Stenar

I have been writing music since age 12, when I started studying piano. Notes just were popping up spontaneously in my mind.
We can all invent things, of any kind. My best skill in this sense is surely inventing new melodies. I never took any formal composition lesson, but I had a very good music teacher at school, Caterina Bertora Milanese, that listened to my own music. She suggested corrections, improvements, but she never imposed me anything: ”What if you add an F-sharp in that chord? Are you sure about that dissonance?” And so on :) Through her and through a massive amount of time devoted to reading and analyzing scores I have learnt the laws of harmony.
I never really dared to take it too seriously, I guess I was just lacking self-confidence. Then opera singing became my passion and my work and for long years I did not write a single note.
Then, a few years ago, during a road trip through Skåne, the Swedish southernmost region, I landed in a quite famous tourists’ destination: Ales Stenar, a sort of viking Stonehenge. It was cloudy, cold and windy, but somehow beautiful. And there, surrounded by those mysterious gray stones, walking on the cliffs above the Baltic Sea, a beautiful melody came to my mind. Just 8 bars. As it should be. I was happy and proud of that melody, on the spot. Once back home I immediately wrote a sketch for piano and a few days later I played it to a dear friend of mine, a very talented Swedish violinist, Anders Hjortvall. He was enthusiastic. “This is a violin melody Stefano! Think about it :) ” he added. And he was damn right! Those 8 bars were the seed of the first movement, Skåne.
Yet, I had the feeling that something was missing, that a continuation was needed. Also, I was not being fair to Ales Stenar, where everything began. So I recently wrote four additional movements and entitled the whole composition Ales Stenar. I called it a suite for violin and chamber orchestra because to me it’s certainly a quite free-flowing music, deeply inspired by Swedish landscapes and nordic atmospheres, but still, all five movements have an inner coherence and a reciprocal connection.
Next year Ales Stenar will be officially performed in front of a public audience. In the meantime a recording made at Malmö Opera in 2020 will be available on all main streaming platforms (Spotify, iTunes, Deezer and son on) from June the 18th 2021, for all of you who are curious about it and willing to listen :) You can also find a few YouTube links here on my website.

Anders Hjortvall, solo violin
Kersti Gräntz Dahlkvist, violin 1
Joakim Zetterqvist, violin 2
Allan Jonasson, viola
Ulrika Mårtensson, cello
Magdalena Entell, double bass
Théophile Hartz, oboe
Lydia Holmlund, clarinet
Alexandru Ioan Chirica, bassoon
Jonas Samuelsson, conductor
Joel Bexelius, sound engineer

The beautiful picture of Ales Stenar is by the photographer Stefan Petersén.

“L’ultima canzone”

“L’ultima canzone” (The Last Song) is a chamber song composed by Tosti in 1905. It is one of the most famous and performed Italian classical songs, where text and melody wonderfully melt together. I must say I really enjoyed to dive into this ever-green romantic serenade!
Since this piece does not belong to an opera and it is a stand-alone song, many voice types performed it, especially tenors, but also baritones and basses, each one in their own tonality of course.
I recently had the opportunity to sing this song several times in a series of concerts in Sweden and I felt like recording it. I must say I couldn’t help thinking how Ottavio Garaventa, one of my teachers, used to sing this piece so beautifully. Maybe I got inspired by his artistry :)

The fine piano playing is by Elena Jordan.

YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN45GayFlBE

SoundCloud link: https://soundcloud.com/stefano-olcese/tosti-ultima-canzone-stefano-olcese-bass

English translation:

They told me that tomorrow,
Nina, you will be a bride.
Yet still I sing my serenade to you!
Over there, on the deserted plateau,
There, in the shady valley,
Oh, how often I have sung it to you!

Oh rose leaf,
Oh amaranth flower,
Though you marry,
I shall be always near you!

Tomorrow you’ll be surrounded
By celebration, smiles and flowers,
And you will not spare a thought for your past loves.
Yet always, by day and by night,
Full of passionate moan
My song will sigh to you.

O mint leaf,
O pomegranate flower,
Nina, remember
the kisses I gave you!

Original Italian text:

M’han detto che domani
Nina vi fate sposa,
Ed io vi canto ancor la serenata.
Là nei deserti piani
Là, nella valle ombrosa,
Oh quante volte a voi l’ho ricantata!

Foglia di rosa
O fiore d’amaranto
Se ti fai sposa
Io ti sto sempre accanto.

Domani avrete intorno
Feste sorrisi e fiori
Né penserete ai nostri vecchi amori.
Ma sempre notte e giorno
Piena di passione
Verrà gemendo a voi la mia canzone.

Foglia di menta
O fiore di granato,
Nina, rammenta
I baci che t’ho dato!

– Recorded at Gulan (Malmö, Sweden), in June 2021 –