for clarinet and orchestra
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.
The darkness knows neither the light nor itself;
only the light knows itself and the darkness also.
None but God hates evil and understands it.
(George MacDonald, Lilith)
Lilith is a figure in Jewish and Babylonian mythology. She is considered to have been Adam’s first wife, created equal to him and not prepared to accept a subordinate role. Egocentric and incapable of fitting into the divine plan of creation, she departed paradise – a female counterpart to Lucifer. Subsequently, Eve was created, the servile wife and mother – this, in any case, was how one attempted to reconcile the two juxtaposed accounts of the creation in the Bible.
Lilith is supposed to have initially transformed herself into the serpent that brought about the Fall of Man. In the myths, and thus also in the novel by MacDonald (a poet of the English Romantic period), Lilith accordingly tends to appear in two forms: as a radiant, seductively beautiful woman and as dark, nocturnal, child-eating demon. Here, then, lay the point of departure for a concerto for clarinet, each of whose two registers can be assigned to one of these two manifestations.
Lilith and Eve represent two opposite poles of femininity, whereby Lilith embodies the dark, demonic pole. But the myths also tell of Lilith’s secret longing to escape her isolation, her anguish, to again become a part of the plan of creation. Following a dramatic altercation with Eve, Lilith manages to weep and to loosen the cramp. After her ascent to the realm of light, she is supposed to have transformed herself into the patron saint of mothers and children.
From the paradisacal splendor of an overtone-rich sound developed out of an Indian raga to the frozen state of the chromatic cluster, over romantically harmonic and atonally severe, over equivocally, bitonally glittering and spectrally pale sounds, maliciously parodistic passages and beguiling and demonic dances, the music spans broad melodic arches. In this way it paints a colorful and psychologically multifaceted portrait of one of the most flamboyant figures in our mythological traditions, ultimately against the backdrop of the question of the possibility of transforming evil.
(translation: Howard Weiner)