I cannot begin to discuss Clara without first thanking Gustavo Dudamel for his generosity in having invited me to compose a work based on the relationship between two great artists: Clara Wieck Schumann and Robert Schumann. Thanks to him, I was able to delve into the broad legacy of both more deftly; especially that of Clara who, in addition to being a splendid composer and one of the most important pianists of the 1 9th century, was the editor of her husband's complete works, as well as a teacher, mother, and wife.
Clara is divided into five parts that are played without interruption:
Except for "My response," all of these sections are comprised of intimate sketches or imaginary outlines of the relationship between Clara and Robert. My original idea was to transfer onto an ephemeral canvas the internal sounds of each one without attempting to illustrate or interpret, but simply voice and create, through my ear, the expressiveness and unique strength of their complex, but also fascinating personalities.
Clara parts from the idea that music will grant us access to a non-linear conception of time that is more circular, where the past (them) and the present (me) can meet, converse, and get to know one another. During these imaginary dialogues of a poetic and musical nature, an intimate diary began to grow in me filled with nuances, confessions, and internal contradictions that find in music their own reference, significance, and internal coherence, expressing all that which cannot be read or explained, but rather must be heard. I like to think that through Clara, Clara Wieck Schumann is here, in this concert hall with us. In order to clearly identify these sections, I have employed two fundamental musical tools: a brief rhythmic sequence that appears constantly as a leitmotif or idée fixe, acting as a thread to guide me between the sections that correspond to Robert or Clara, and a melodic theme represented by the oboe that, in a more personal way, represents the latter's private world. At the end of the piece, this leitmotif can be heard as breathing, leaving implicit the permanence and legacy of both figures.
In the central part of the work, "My response," I seek two objectives: first, to bring Clara and Robert into my own world, one of a rhythmic strength and color characteristic of my language, of the unique vitality born out of the entrails of the land I come from; and second, to explore a quote considered to be very controversial, in which Clara wrote: "I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose —there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I expect to be the one?"
Throughout history, women have had to overcome major obstacles marked by gender differences. We have gradually unfolded within the musical arts with great difficulty. However, as is well known, there are many of us who have rebelled against these evident forms of injustice and struggled to gain recognition and a place in society. This piece represents an acknowledgement of Clara, a tribute to her, and my definitive, resounding response to her question. It also signals my gratitude to all the women who, in their time, challenged the society they were raised in by manifesting their artistic oeuvre.
— Gabriela Ortiz