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Work of the Week - Heinz Holliger: Ma'mounia

Pushing virtuosity to the absolute extreme: Heinz Holliger’s Ma'mounia (2002), for solo percussion and mixed chamber ensemble, will receive its Spanish premiere on 04 April 2023. Meaning ‘safe haven’ in Arabic, this work will be performed by the Plural Ensemble under the direction of Holliger himself at the Fundación BBVA in Madrid.

Holliger’s first source of compositional inspiration came from his visit to the restaurant Ma’mounia in Geneva. In the work itself, Holliger describes the interaction of body and mind through the musical dialogue between the virtuoso percussion solo and the ensemble. A theatrical body of sound is formed which increases from a pure soundscape to an explosive sonority.

Physique and consciousness: Ma’mounia by Heinz Holliger

This 13 minute piece features unusual instrumentation involving solo percussion and a chamber ensemble consisting of flute, clarinet, horn, violoncello and piano. In this work, Holliger strives to push each player beyond their musical boundaries as he combines complex rhythms and an ambitious thematic structure for both the melodic and harmonic lines.

My entire relationship with music is such that I always try to reach its limits. (Heinz Holliger)

The work Ma'mounia was commissioned and premiered by the Concours de Genève in 2002. Originally, the Spanish premiere was to take place in October 2020 but was cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.



Heinz Holliger: Composer Profile 

Ma’mounia: Work Details and Online Score 

Website Plural Ensemble 


Illustration: Janisphoto / Adobe