8 januari, 2001 - Posthoornkerk, Amsterdam

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     Lydia Forbes, viool
     Anne McMichael, viool
     Elisabeth Smalt, altviool
     John Addison, cello

Programma en Program notes

Jeff Hamburg - Rapide

A piece of music is inevitably about other pieces, thus my composition teacher told me many years ago. It is then no shock when Theo Muller calls and asks for a violin solo piece for his 'ConSequenze Festival', a project centering on Berio's Sequenzas. Besides, I am an old hand at writing commentaries after the flautist Eleonore Pameijer's Telemann Project, in which ten composers wrote musical commentaries on Telemann's flute fantasies.

So where does one start: a recording of Berio's Sequenza VIII for violin performed by Carlo Chiarappa, for whom I am to write my piece. After several minutes of listening, I turn off the CD player. I hear almost everything I dislike about modern music: harmonic relationships are replaced by 'pitch collections', phrases are glued together ('montage' technique) instead of logically following one another, it is rhythmically uninteresting since it is freely notated (phrases are either faster or slower and have no rhythmical relationship: this is definitely related to the absence of harmonic relationships). The strength of Berio's piece is in its theatrics.

Where to next then? Oddly enough, I turned to the six sonatas for unaccompanied violin by Bach. This in itself is not odd, as Bach is a beloved source of inspiration to many composers. But it turns out that Berio himself was inspired by the grandiose Chaconne from the second Sonata. (Did I subconsciously hear that? I doubt it very much, since even after knowing all of this, I still see--not hear--only a very superficial connection between the two pieces.)

I, on the other hand, took a liking to the third Sonata, especially the first movement, the Adagio. The consistant build up--harmonic and thematic--resulting in the thirty second note releases of energy. Just what Louis Andriessen taught me that music is: building up of expectations and their consequent release.

This, in a nutshell, is the musico inspirational background to Rapide. But where does the title come from? It is not, as Theo Muller thought, a complex anagram on the name of Chiarappa. It is indeed a reference to one of my other obessions: chess.

Many aspects of chess are interesting in their relationship not only to music but to theater as well. I am often jealous of the concentration of a public during a chess tournament. Not only does everyone follow the action, one can sense the excitement as hundreds of brains are simultaneously creating their own scenario of what will come. Imagine a concert hall filled with music lovers fluent in current musical language, listening to the discourse of the composer, fervently trying to anticipate where the composer will go.

Another related aspect is that of tempo. A chess opening can be played rather swiftly, the tempo suddenly decreasing to less than a snail's pace during the middle game, only to increase again to a hectic pace while trying to beat the clock. In a sense, Rapide emulates this. Rapid chess, by the way, is when both players have to complete all of their moves within 20 minutes (a normal symphony, I mean tournament game, can last hours)

So Rapide opens in a flurry, exposing the musical material quickly (a), setting the scene for the rest of the piece. Suddenly we reach the middle game (b), how are we going to do develop the pieces (well, in this case, the notes and rhythmical motives). After much deliberation, slow adjustment, nuances--the clock is ticking and it's off to the end game (c) before our flag falls! All of the pieces have been exchanged except for a few pawns and in the last few minutes (measures, that is)--a few reminiscences of the middle game (vague threats, a thrust here or there)(d). The game is adjourned and the violinist's next move is sealed in an envelope.

Cynthie van Eijden - Twee Delen voor Strijkkwartet

In "Twee delen voor strijkkwartet" probeer ik, de luisteraar uit te dagen zijn/haar horen opnieuw te vormen. Het is de klank zelf - klank, die in deze delen meer dan in mijn voorgaande werken uit de natuur van de instrumenten wordt opgeroepen - die tot de interpretatie van dezelfde klanken voert, zonder dat er een componeren is, dat tussen klank en interpretatie zou kunnen bemiddelen.
Een tweede inspiratiebron naast de klankmogelijkheden van de instrumenten vormt "het woord": de mogelijkheid te zingen. Klanktaal: de ander kant van taal-klank. In het bijzonder de taalklank van het Nederlands van Herman Gorter heeft me zeer beziggehouden en beinvloed tijdens het schrijven van de "twee delen". Daarnaar verwijzend hebben de "twee delen" de volgende subtitels:

I. Prelude
II. Toen begon opeens een stem te stijgen

Het laatste is een citaat uit "Mei" van Gorter en beschrijft, hoe Mei voor het eerst de stem van Balder waarneemt."

Calliope Tsoupaki - Enigma

Enigma voor altviool solo (1999) is geschreven voor het Gaudeamus Vertolkers Concours, maar is daar niet gespeeld. Het brengt naar boven de mysterieuze ijle en spookachtige klank van de altviool.

Samuel Vriezen - Uit het strijkkwartet

This piece tries to escape itself.

At the time I started writing it I was fascinated with a pattern I could see everywhere. Philosophers redescribe their predecessors' achievements in order to transcend them with their own systems or strategies. Avant-gardes deny their ancestors, who formed avant-gardes themselves. And in mathematical set theory you can find a pret-a-porter method for creating ever greater infinities from lesser ones. Nothing can contain set theory: the textbook symbols seem to promise a lifetime of discovery.

Infinity seemed like a key concept. It's magical, everyone is looking for its secrets. Which is strange, we find ourselves surrounded by things and creatures from all sides, these tend to be finite. A neighbour has a certain size of shoe, a cat needs being fed daily. What should we do? Move to another town, starve the cat: we'll get new neighbours and buy a nice parakeet. Or try to transcend the notion of community itself: we may catch ourselves chatting with the wind some day.

I thought it must be exiting to somehow capture the energy that derives from this form of anxiety. I'm not sure whether or not I might have been misguided in thinking so. It might give more pleasure to strive for change without strife. Two cats (they'll have a name: Knoerp and Ferrari, both red, rivals) might be a richer thing than a thousand of them.

It seems to me, a year after finishing the piece, that in fact the major change in the piece occurs at the very end. The last pages were originally conceived as a breakdown following a long period of developments in multiple directions, etc. And from the ruins of the piece, in the last bars, the music actually moves 'out of the string quartet' ('uit het strijkkwartet'). Retrospectively I find myself wondering if, however, these empty textures are not the actual central content of the piece, liberated from the pressure of moving on, on, on, of being twelve pieces at once.

The piece is built on a 400-note line (400 is as close to infinity as I dared get) that unfolds very slowly. Often you can't hear it, because it only influences the texture in the background. At some points, however, it emerges quite clearly; it's mostly played flautando. From this line the piece builds an ever-vaster repertoire of melodic figures. After an initial section of meandering counterpoint and changing textures, the piece suddenly crashes into homophony. Discourse splits in four: there is a collage-like juxtaposition of four differerent time signatures, and in each there is a tendency from homophony towards polyphony, with polyphony being total and over-the-top towards the end of the piece. Breakdown, exit, the end. Along the way: myriad different sonic sights, some nice, some not so nice.


Concerten Tot en Met is drie jaar geleden begonnen als Concerten I t/m IV, een door jonge componisten georganiseerd podium voor nieuwe muziek. Het volgende concert, Concert XX, staat in het teken van virtuositeit. Carl Rosman is een Australische basklarinettist die grote indruk heeft gemaakt met zijn opname van Ferneyhough's Time and Motion Study nr. 1 (Ferneyhough Solo Pieces, Elision Ensemble, op Etcetera). Hij heeft enkele kennissen uitgenodigd om een recital te komen geven. Voorts zal ook Helen Bledsoe optreden, een virtuoze fluitiste die o.a. optrad als solist in Heinz Holliger's Scardanelli Cyclus. Gespeeld worden onder voorbehoud werken van Richard Barrett, Brian Ferneyhough, Guus Jansen, Martijn Voorvelt en Samuel Vriezen. 25 Februari, 20:30 in de Posthoornkerk.

Concert XXI: 11 Maart - Dante Oei (piano) speelt Cage, Feldman, Meierhans, Vandevorst, Vriezen

Concert XXII: 24 Maart - Viool en slagwerkprogramma met Lydia Forbes in het kader van de Tera de Marez Oyensprijs. O.a. werken van Havelaar, de Marez Oyens, Oei, Vandevorst.

Elke ochtend neem ik
graag een boterham.
Ik smeer diverse zaken
op mijn boterham.

De ene ochtend smeer
ik pindakaas erop;
anders gaat er jam
of honing overheen.

Soms drink ik er
een potje thee bij.
Vaak lees ik er
een ochtendkrantje bij.

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