The musical language of the lyricist Yun thwarts expectations, refering only fleetingly as it does to identifiable variations of a model. It deals rather with analogies which, instead of appearing according to the rules, are conveyed through a form of development which is itself a flowing while at the same time organic process of variation. The friction which is thus created (and which propels the music forwards), almost always proves to be a divergence from or disruption of the overall direction which had been previously established. For Yun, this quality which is characterised by a rising melodic movement, is a symbol of liberation.
The quintet was composed in the summer of 1984 as a commission for the International Summer festival of Kusatsu in Japan. It was premiered there on August 24, 1984 by Eduard Brunner and the Tatsumi Quartet. In this generally quiet, four part work, the individual voices have a mutual influence on each other. The prominent voice is nevertheless the clarinet, which, as the symbol of the active Yang pole, is the source of change. In the development, which is measured by the pitch registers attained, the strings follow the leadership of the clarinet which, however, when deprived of their support, falls back into a waiting role.
Within the musical expanse Yun doesn't simply combine the idea of high and low, but also that of "above" and "below", or heaven and earth. A characteristic quality of this work is the way the voice of the clarinet fills out the space, which, according to the composer, shows that it is heard as "unending melody". By this Yun apparently means three things: firstly, that there is an intense unity of melodic structure; secondly, that pure and consonant intervals and consequently cantabile tendencies are thereby emphasised; and thirdly and above all, that the clarinet, in filling out the melodic space, moulds the form of the piece.
In a freely broken, wave-like form, the first part from e up to g3 and then down to f#1 is something of a domed half-circle which represents heaven. In the second part Yun adds to this the depths of the earth by moving from a high e3 down to f and g and then up to g#3. The third part, initiated by the call of the clarinet on top a#3 (!), leads to a discussion of sorts between upper and lower registers. Because of its lyrical quality, the final section, in which the strings are muted, serves as a compensation for the restlessness of the earlier sections. It could be imagined as a farewell in which the solo instrument beginning with d goes up to f3 before returning to d. The use of consonance in this work should not be seen as euphemistic or indulgent on the part of the composer. Instead, it is born out of an exhausting compositional process which also demands much of the listener.
Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer (translation: Michael Whiticker)