• 2+pic(fl).2+ca.1+Ebcl(cl)+bcl(cl).barsx.2+cbn(bn)/4431/timp.4perc/hp.pf(cel)/str
  • 6 min

Programme Note

I encountered Max Ernst's Dadaville (1924) at Tate Liverpool by chance and was immediately intrigued; it looked like a painting but is actually a sculpture of a seemingly impenetrable iron wall that is in fact made of a cork so fragile that it is kept behind glass for fear it might crumble if touched. Above the ‘wall’, we observe what may be blue sky and white clouds. The sculpture is rich in ambiguity.

My piece Dadaville lasts just under seven minutes and is scored for an orchestra that includes extensive percussion and a baritone saxophone. It begins with a muted violin melody that in various incarnations permeates the entire piece. An energetic section follows based around the notes D and A; notes which stubbornly pop up throughout irrespective of context and environment (and where else might the notes D and A live other than Dadaville?). A gritty, aggressive segment gravitating around D flat and A flat (D and A at Baroque pitch?) ensues. A genial woodwind/celesta bridge leads to a dreamlike statement of the opening melody (solo violin/cello then flute/horn) that in turn introduces the tuba’s infinitely variable 9-bar ground-bass-like figure (or groove if you prefer) which passes from instrument to instrument to the end of the piece (under the bonnet, the number 9 and its multiples have structural and symbolic significance –Dadaville [9 letters] is 180 bars long, for example). Whilst writing Dadaville, I often pondered what else (another D and A?) might live behind this iron-cork wall. The penultimate bar fleetingly hints...

Programme note © 2015 Gary Carpenter


Carpenter: Dadville