• 2.0+ca.2+bcl.asx.1(cbn)/2.0.2.1/perc/hp/pf/syn/str(1.1.2.2.1)
  • Violin
  • 24 min

Programme Note

Double Portrait brings to an end a project which, even by my standards, has been very long in its gestation. Begun after a commission by IRCAM in 1991 and premiered in a ten-minute version in April the following year, I was never satisfied with the piece; it kept on “murmurring” in the back of my head. There was something in the material that had to be brought out...

After some half-willed attempts in the mid-90s I was suddenly put in a position - by generous support of the ULTIMA-festival in Oslo, Radio France Musique, and again IRCAM - to finally and fully dig into a new version of the score and recall old ghosts from my imagination. The piece ended up in a completely new design and nearly three times as long.

So what is the piece about? It opens up with the violinistic gesture par excellence; the gesture where the violinist makes the bow go from the deepest to the highest strings as if tuning the instrument; here in my version I always get the feeling that the violinist tries to remember the opening of the Alban Berg concerto, but he is not quite able to...
This turns out to be the introduction to a “Formula” where the orchestra enters, and together with the violinist gives us the same gesture in seven different versions with different intervals and different colours, all named after the seven prayers of the Horae Canonicae, the catholic order of prayers during day and night.

Horae Canonicae also happens to be the title of a suite of poems by the English-American poet W. H. Auden (1907-73), where he describes, in seven very different poems, the changing conditions under which we humans are forced to live during the 24 hours of the clock. Everything is laid out in a concise and at the same time “twilighted” prose full of metaphors and, typically of Auden, with a lot of references to classical literature.
One line in one of the poems soon came into the foreground for me; it is also on the front page of the score as a kind of motto: “At this hour we all might be anyone”. In my interpretation this is a description of when you wake up and for a moment are disorientated; you do not know where you are, or that you have been asleep. For a few seconds you are without prejudices, without wanting or longing, you are just very receptive and committed to being. This brings up in me a spontaneous feeling that one in this very moment, could be anybody else. For a few seconds your ego is gone. You are just a part of a nearly endless (in number) human consciousness.

- - - - - - -

The piece now unfolds in the order and in the form of the material of the “Formula”, except for some interruptions of a more vital or aggressive material. The electronics respond in different ways to the soloist, but most important is that the electronics represent a kind of additional "sketch" to make up a double portrait of the violin; sometimes commenting and elaborating the violin’s line, sometimes supporting it, in the course of the day and night.
And it all ends up where it started, in the morning, with Lauds. The musical form is cyclical. The human condition is maybe, at least in our western culture, about the idea of moving forward, but very often we end up at the same spot, if we are not able to move inwards.

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