for large orchestra (2014-2015) | 19 minutes
(18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, 6 perc., pno, hp, 126.96.36.199.8)
Premiere 18 October 2015, Donaueschinger Musiktage
SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, François-Xavier Roth, conductor
Published by Editions Billaudot
“So that the center is displaced toward the outside” (André Du Bouchet)
Composing for a large orchestra (this work is composed for 98 musicians) offers endless musical constellations. This thrilling diversity demands a careful organization of the spatial sound.
While composing the piece, an idea came quickly to the forefront: to emphasize the impression of depth in the orchestra.
I decided to use the traditional orchestral arrangement with three groups placed one behind the other: strings/woodwinds/brass. The strings are arranged stereophonically, the first violins on the left, the second violins on the right. Only the six percussionists are distributed around the stage and the audience, and thus refer by way of their maximum distance to the depth of the hall, which is defined by its size. As a contrast, the conductor needs to be a point of maximum proximity. In this way, a “partition” of the room takes place that stretches from the centrally placed conductor, who is surrounded by the quartet of solo strings, to the mass of strings, the wind instruments, harp and piano to the six percussionists, comparable with increasingly distant concentric crescents.
It became clear to me that the conductor can no longer just be the visible trigger of events, if the center point is to be recognizable when listening. He has to participate with an unusual action in certain generative strategic impulses. Their repetition then could define the architecture of the work.
I found the ideal means in the conductor’s baton (a large baton, as used in the music of Lully) and its impact, the beating on the floor with is great dramatic weight and its relative “musical neutrality.”
The entire piece develops from the initial figure in this sense. The dull start wanders to the ends of the hall like a reverberation, with which the attention shifts. This idea came to me when I discovered the museum architecture of Rei Naito und Ryue Nishizawa on the Japanese island of Teshima: an excavated mountain, in which the tiny and the endless meet, and in which every event, even the least important, takes on an excess of significance.
The result is a variety of possibilities of derivation and development: an explosion, followed by an after-shock, a quiver of air, the spread of a flicker, a noisy mass, dull rumbling, expansion and contraction, here and there a crackling, a creaking distorted by slowness.
Why So Quiet is dedicated to François-Xavier Roth.