for choir, wind ensemble and electronics
double choir (each SSAATTBB; TI,II,BI,II soli also megaphone); hn, 2tpt, trb, tuba, timp, perc, electronics
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.
Funkhaus Wallrafplatz, Köln
WDR Rundfunkchor / Schlagquartett Köln / musikFabrik / Manfred Schreier
IV. The Mill
V. Fade out]
We have been taught to accept nothing for what it pretends to be. On the one hand, there are the mystics who see a world of balanced order behind the external world. The sceptics, on the other hand, feel deceived by everything which is invisible. In today’s world of microelectronics, this second, man-made reality resembles a commercial product. Although it does not always consist of the same qualities, it is a virtual world, which means that it can be eliminated by order. It creates the delusion that the process of time passing can be reversed and thus seems to release us from our responsibilities. However, the principle of ‘load new game’ is an optical illusion if time is imagined in terms of space, as a running, flying or stationary medium. The dispersion of time through virtual reality results in a substantial loss for the self. Considering how the world of experience is overexposed by its synthetic competitors, the subjective, visual perception of time gradually vanishes into a zone of loss where the inner world is deprived of its dreams. Reality, on the other hand, is reduced to a desideratum which is unfulfillable because it has become irreversible and thus uncanny.
The Book of Kohelet tells us a great deal about losing a grip on reality. God is reduced to a name whose transitory nature, like a gentle breeze, demands supplication as soon as we attempt to avoid him. Memory is the saving moment. Thus wherever memory disappears, a fictitious reality takes its place.
For this piece, verses from sonnets of Petrarch and Celan are integrated into the closing lines of the Book of Kohelet. Those verses, too, use the fleetingness of time to express longing and hope. However, in the arrangement of the selected fragments of text which forms the basis of the work, the thrust of their deeper meanings is again blurred. It is impossible to find a definite solution for the motifs of love in its comforting or frightening aspects, as they are mutually exclusive. For if you do not ignore the fleetingness of time but begin to ‘ride along’ on it, expectation loses its definite direction and all concrete passes you by. Kohelet and Petrarch provide us with images of time which are blurred against the virtual horizon. They are like glancing into a mirror in which you do not recognize yourself.
When images beginn to topple over, the momentum of time abruptly penetrates their static security and makes them fugitives in both senses of the word, ie. both transitory and volatile. This element of ambiguity and indistinctness is the compositional principle of this work. Musical quotations from the Renaissance or Oriental scales (according to the Book of Kohelet and the fragments from Petrarch) are woven into the spectral context like a spice which both softens and intensifies the bitterness of the poetic colours. The sounds generated electronically, too, have a hermaphroditic nature: they are solely based on so-called ‘morphings’ – processes of crossing which are used to create spectral transitions between instrumental and vocal sounds (for example, between a trumpet and a soprano) or to produce ‘hybrids’, doubly exposed sounds which physically unite the qualities of two sources (such as the bass part and bell) in order to build a network of bridges between all the live sounds used. Thus a third medium, an androgynous landscape of fictitious voices and instruments, is created between the choir and the instrumental ensemble.
This procedure is continued in the structure of the piece; its composition is based on double exposures and blurrings: sequences which are superimposed on themselves in varying speed, or images of time which have margins of different sizes. The same method is used in the form of the piece, where whole parts, melodies and rhythms become instable because of their increasing expansion. At the end of the piece, a child reads the text; however, on a sudden ‘dissolve’ of the background sounds and a dramatic rallentando in the central tutti part, it suddenly transforms into the voice of an old woman only then to return to that of the child. It is a moment when time is both sustained and accelerated. The dispersal of the musical measures represents a subliminal erosion of memory, placed into glaring light.
The title does not imply a programme but is meant in the sense of an expanding overall movement of the musical process. Time is calmed down. Yet there remains a window in which lovers recognize themselves.
© Johannes Kalitzke (Translation: Andreas Goebel)