Commissioned by Harrogate International Festival

  • 2222/2210/pf/str(
  • 13 min

Programme Note

TRAUMSTADT is the title of a painting by Paul Klee; with its shades of blue, black, green and pink, it has an air of calm and yet at the same time contains much movement. It is a dreamlike painting - as the title suggests - and the manner in which Klee contrasts his limited range of colours is, as always with this painter, quite masterly.

I have not attempted to translate Klee's painting into music in a literal sense; my ideas in TRAUMSTADT were purely musical. Where I have followed the painting is in terms of its continual contrasts of different shades of colour, and in its paradoxical element of movement and stasis at the same time, The harmony of TRAUMSTADT is based on chords containing perfect and augmented fourths which are present virtually the whole time, although its harmonic background is sometimes submerged beneath complex polyphony. The work sets out from the note D and during the main argument makes many references to the dominant A as a central pitch. At the close the two main elements of the music can be heart quite clearly - the augmented fourth E flat/ A natural, and three multiple octave chords on D.

TRAUMSTADT, which is scored for a chamber orchestra of 19 instruments, was commissioned by the Harrogate Festival for the Koenig Ensemble.

Robert Saxton