• Betsy Jolas
  • Well Met 04 - Pantomime for 12 Strings (2004)

  • Heugel (World)
  • 7vn.2va.2vc.1db.
  • 55 min

Programme Note

This pantomime should be conceived as the wordless evocation of a concert rehearsal.
Entrance and setting up of bass, cellos and violas; tuning up, sight-reading, playing bits of duets and trios, but constantly disturbed by the seven violins practicing outside and who are finally made to quiet down.

Enter the seven violins with a call game. They rehearse « their » piece. Brief pause. Performers pay each other talkative visits.

Rehearsal resumes with a « baroque » piece. Sectional then tutti. But an argument over ornaments leads to an interruption during which 2 violins, as union representatives, deliver partisan speeches provoking heated reactions.

Pause: everyone on their own, practices famous orchestral passages from their repertoire. Growing excitement leads to dancing (a « chaconne-blues », old fashioned ragtime, a march...).

Power failure #1. All gather around an open string D. Light gradually returns. Everyone goes back to his or her seat.

Rehearsal of Hommage à Berlioz (one recognizes scale passages often heard before).
Power failure #2 (more scary). The conductor has disappeared. Sounds of conflagrations. Gradual return to calm and light.

The conductor finally returns, but is hardly welcomed. He conducts Litanies with increasing exhilaration... Sudden stop. Facing growing distrust, the conductor yields to Violin 1.

Violin 1 directs the exit of bass, cellos and violas with multiple cadenzas, then carefully entrusts a unique E flat to the six remaining violins for their exit and, realizing he is left alone, exits himself.

The rehearsal room is empty, dimly lit. The conductor hastens back to pick up his score. Lights go off and an outside door slams noisily.