A Knife to Reality
Van Magazine interview by Tim Rutherford-Johnson
Article in Seismograf by Niels Rønsholdt
Niels Rønsholdt biography article
Biography in Danish
The Demon of Intimacy
Portrait article from Parergon by Jens Voigt
Dane Gold For The Ears
Article in The Times about danish contemporary music
Interview with Niels Rønsholdt
Interview by american musician Zach Herchen
Den Grænsesøgende Komponist
Interview in Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten
Rønsholdt Giver Genklang
Article and interview on SNYK website
High resolution press photos:
Niels Rønsholdt (black/white)
Klejs & Rønsholdt
Credit obligatory (Photo: Lars Svankjær).
BREATHLESS MOMENT (2017)
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Niels Rønsholdt unfolds existential doubts and embeds human life in every single note on his new release 'Songs of Doubt'.
'Gaze for Gaze' was truly something else, and successfully so. Perhaps it was something like a slow, meditative mix of traditional Japanese Noh theatre, Danish pedagogy of the 1970s kind – asking everyone to join in, regardless of training – and curious minimalist avant-garde. I left the concert in a state of wonder and excitement.
Songs of Doubt is a remarkable album. It’s not for anyone who thinks Ed Sheeran produces complex songs but it’s a powerful and affecting work that should appeal to classical and electronic pop fans alike. One of the most diverting albums we’ve heard in ages.
- Review Corner
Insanely fascinating visuals and music. The world of 'Breathless Moment' looks like a noir comic book and Rønsholdt’s simple, repetitive music is hypnotically beautiful. Gloomy and otherworldly abstract – yet strangely relevant.
The world premiere of Rønsholdt’s grand work 'Civilizations' draw hundreds of cheering music lovers to Tivoli. The music was a climax of the Klang Festival, it was a victory for Athelas Sinfonietta and it was gold for the Greenlandic choir Aavaat with their white anoraks, colorful dresses and wonderful engagement. The cultural life can not have too much of this: Young composers who takes a stand on the past of the globe and creates music about its future. Niels Rønsholdt: mark you that name.
'Songs of Doubt' is a work that radiates perfection.
'Civilizations' is now stuck like a thorn in the brain. It worked both as a statement and as an artistic expression.
In front of The danish National Chamber Orchestra Kira Skov was singing duet with the composer of the mindblower of the night, Niels Rønsholdt, who has written the song cycle ‘Me Quitte’. A conceptual work where the idea behind the music was just as breathtaking as the comically intelligent realization in a cycle of songs that were at the same time pop-like simple and avant-garde complex.
The experience stayed with me afterwards. The colour and originality of the thirty minutes, and Rønsholdt’s awkward, tragic performance, overrode everything else.
- Journals of Music (UK), (Ord for Ord / Word for Word)
Highlights included Niels Rønsholdt's 'Me Quitte', a ghostly cabaret of songs sung with translucent loveliness by the composer and Faeroese musician Anna Katrin Egilstrod.
- The Wire (UK)
With an insistence on aesthetic and technical precision, Rønsholdt has been whittling consistently and mercilessly for many years upon the genres of instrumental music, chamber opera and installation. Rønsholdt's music is characterized by an extreme tenderness that entices the listener to enter difficult universes, where the aesthetics and composition are so powerful that you can feel the door slam shut behind you.
- Danish Arts Foundation
'Me Quitte' was characterized by a deep sadness and vulnerability. Like a lonely man who bemoaned the isolation of love. At the same time the precise compositions and the literally reversed texts were so clearly and thoroughly executed, that the piece became completely objective.
The objectivity lit a bright light that penetrated the grief from within, so you could perceive all its components. It was not sentimental, but emotional. It was not about Rønsholdts own grief (if he was at all upset about something), but about something universally human. It was heartbreaking. A masterpiece.
In 'Fish & Fowl' the composers Juliana Hodkinson and Niels Rønsholdt let the chamber ensemble Scenatet record their works in a studio and then remixed them into a new coherent whole.
A fascinating dialogue between two temperaments, between notated composition for acoustic instruments and electronic sound art in which the breathing - calmly pulsating, sighing, and at times agitated groaning, is the coherent link.
The music is feeling its way, fumbling, fondling and resting in a continuous alternation between closeness and distance, the explicit and implicit. As if it wanted to make itself the voice of the of the gap that separates the face from the mask.
- Dagens Nyheter (S)
I see 'Inside your mouth, sucking the sun' as an ambitious endeavour to reinvent or evaluate the traditional opera drama.
- Danish Music Review
Consciously, the words [in Inside Your Mouth, Sucking The Sun] are instrumentalized or vocalized beyond understandability. The soft, sighing and mostly very high singing is without great dramatic movement, but possesses an overall aching beauty and simplicity (...) It is in some way unexpected to hear the feelings between two (historical) characters described so quietly and undramatic in a time where modern opera seems to be dominated by great feelings, problems and aggressions.
- The Jutland Post
Delicious. Or? Opera. Or? An Experience!
* * * * * * Aarhus Stiftstidende (Ord for Ord / Word by Word)
The composer Niels Rønsholdt has not yet reached 30 years and still he has written several succesfull and deeply original pieces of music theatre.
This time with "TRIUMPH", created together with the video designer Signe Klejs. Thirty extremely simple minutes about violence, pain and satisfaction; a kind of ultra modern, electrified micro-opera about SM.
- The Jutland Post
In spite of his young age, Niels Rønsholdt is extraordinarily original, unconventional and consistent in his musical thinking.
- Prof. Karl Aage Rasmussen, DJM
We are doubtlessly dealing with a radical composer. The radicality is almost of the calibre of Lachenmann and Feldman, and 'Inside your mouth, sucking the sun' was an important corrective to Danish mainstream music theatre.
- Danish Music Review
“…It’s these human dreams of higher heavens that the trio Sonne, Daugaard and Rønsholdt with a clear and consistent idea and utter humouristically now take in hand in ‘Archeopteryx X’… Dreams that land on the floor like the famous solo ‘the Dying Swan’, that in a refined manner haunts the entire performance in both Lisbeth Sonne and Kasper Daugaard’s wonderful flying movements and Niels Rønsholdt’s very fine and sensitively sonorous chamber music performed live by The Jutland Ensemble. Gloriously absurd it is, when the performers hover in a hook, transform into limbless, dancing torsos and when the beautiful symbolically loaded swan not only dies, but is also plucked.”
* * * * * Berlingske Tidende
‘Fish & Fowl’ by the Danish music and art ensemble Scenatet is by turns baffling, hypnotic, startling and mesmerically beautiful. Nearly impossible to categorize (one of its strengths), it's comprised of atonal, off-kilter chamber music enhanced with such evocative sound effects as heavily suggestive breathing, creaking doors and ominous footsteps.
Gloriously abstract, yet possessed of an enigmatic narrative and emotional coherence, "Fish and Fowl" will keep you under its spell from beginning to end. Turn out the lights and let it gather you into its folds of paradox and poetry.
- Dean R. Brierly
‘Archeopteryx X’ serves heaps of food for thought, and you leave provoked, entertained and amazed.
It's not just an echo chamber, Niels Rønsholdt 'song cycle' Me quitte (2012-13) resonate out, but a whole maze. As with mazes, they look simple from the outside, but once you are lured into them, you start to feel the despair, desperation and resignation grow. The same happens when you listen to Rønsholdts dark songs, now published by Dacapo - but in the best possible meaning of the analogy.
Song for song in this cycle, which is written for a male and a female voice and five instruments, Rønsholdt pulls the listener deeper and deeper into his extremely melancholic, pop-influenced and highly subjectively constructed sound universe.
In Grusomhetens Teater, the chamber opera 'Inside your mouth, sucking the sun' for soprano, baritone, clarinet and trombone was performed, written by the young and promising Danish composer Niels Rønsholdt. Based on the letters from Napoleon Bonaparte to his empress Josephine de Beauharnais, Rønsholdt presented a convincing work in all its concentrated sparingness. Dominated by an anxious and only partly understandable voice treatment - excellently performed partly sung, partly recited in German by the soprano Tora Augestad - the piece expressed the love between Napoleon and Josephine.
- MusikTexte (D)
Niels Rønsholdt has written some very peculiar pieces and his opera-like stage piece 'Inside your mouth, sucking the sun' is doubtlessly a temporary chief work.
- Parergon (N)