VISIT WESTCORKMUSIC.IE

LATEST ADDITION TO THE ARCHIVE

Hommage à T.S.Eliot

Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)

Katharine Dain (photo credit: Arthur Moeller)

Katharine Dain (photo credit: Arthur Moeller)

Composer
Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)
Composition Year
1987
Work Movements
1. [violins, viola, cello, bass]
2. [clarinet, horn, bassoon]
3. Time and the bell have buried the day [soprano]
4. [violins, viola, cello, bass]
5. The chill ascends from feet to knees [full ensemble]
6. [clarinet, violin 1,viola, cello]
7. Sin is behovely, but [full ensemble]
Artists
Katherine Dain [soprano], Chloë Hanslip [violin], Liana Gourdjia [violin], Brett Dean [viola], David Cohen [cello], Mathias Kjøller [clarinet], Hervé Joulain [horn], Peter Whelan [bassoon], Niek de Groot [double bass]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

Schubert’s Octet, with its unusual line-up of string quintet plus a trio of lower winds, has led to a number of commissions for the same instrumental combination by concert promoters seeking a first half work to accompany a performance of the Schubert. Gubaidulina is renowned for composing works for the most varied kinds of chamber ensembles, though, by her standards, this would have been a conservative line-up. The addition of the soprano was the result of her discovery of Eliot’s Four Quartets; famously Eliot was hugely influenced by Beethoven’s late quartets when writing his magnum opus so music and poetry come full circle with Gubaidulina’s setting.

                                               

Gubaidulina has spoken of the sadness at the heart of my music, which is partly a Russian thing – Russian music is always about pain. However Gubaidulina felt she had found a kindred spirit in Eliot: His thinking about time – that past, present and future contain each other – very much struck my mystical thoughts about eternity. She was especially taken by his verses on the problem of creation, where every attempt is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure. As she put it herself: All my work is just attempts. I know that when I write that it will never fulfil my intuitive hopes for it – that is why it is sad. However for us lesser mortals the results are hugely impressive – and, in this case, deeply moving.

The whole work is played without a break and from the jagged opening phrases in the violins to the organ-like chords that precede the strange coda in the first strings-only movement, we aware that we are in the presence of a great composer. The short second wind trio movement is opened to great effect by the horn, while the soprano is introduced in the third movement a capella  - at the still point of the turning world. The string quintet returns for the mysterious, pizzicato fourth movement leading directly to the ceremonial opening of the terrifying fifth movement. To a gradually intensifying procession of savage string chords the soprano enters in a wordless duet with the horn until eventually Eliot’s gruesome text gradually takes shape as the strings grow fiercer and fiercer. Slowly the ensemble, not without protest, collapses, leaving the soprano on her own with the dripping blood.

The gentle sixth movement for clarinet and string trio provides unexpected and much needed lyricism. Eliot’s test comes to mind:

Love is most nearly itself

When here and now cease to matter,

Old men ought to be explorers

Here and there does not matter

We must be still and still moving

Into another intensity.

This other intensity follows in a movement of overwhelming power and flaming beauty. Gubaidulina builds up over twenty pages of the score to an incandescent setting of the final mystical stanza of Eliot’s fourth Quartet where the rose and the fire become one. We could not be further from Schubert’s lovely Octet and the Festival’s original plan to follow in the commissioner’s footsteps collapsed in the face of this devastating music. 

FULL DETAILS SEARCH FOR MORE

Hommage à T.S.Eliot

Composer: Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)
Performance date: Thursday 2nd July 2015
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

Share on Twitter | Share on Facebook
http://archive.westcorkmusic.ie/details/view/cmf/516

Composer Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)
Work Title Hommage à T.S.Eliot
Composition Year 1987
Work Movements 1. [violins, viola, cello, bass]
2. [clarinet, horn, bassoon]
3. Time and the bell have buried the day [soprano]
4. [violins, viola, cello, bass]
5. The chill ascends from feet to knees [full ensemble]
6. [clarinet, violin 1,viola, cello]
7. Sin is behovely, but [full ensemble]
Artist(s) Katherine Dain [soprano], Chloë Hanslip [violin], Liana Gourdjia [violin], Brett Dean [viola], David Cohen [cello], Mathias Kjøller [clarinet], Hervé Joulain [horn], Peter Whelan [bassoon], Niek de Groot [double bass]
Performance Date Thursday 2nd July 2015
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Main Evening Concert
Duration 00:13:20
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Octet
Instrumentation S-solo, 2vn, va, vc, cl, hn, bsn, db
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

Schubert’s Octet, with its unusual line-up of string quintet plus a trio of lower winds, has led to a number of commissions for the same instrumental combination by concert promoters seeking a first half work to accompany a performance of the Schubert. Gubaidulina is renowned for composing works for the most varied kinds of chamber ensembles, though, by her standards, this would have been a conservative line-up. The addition of the soprano was the result of her discovery of Eliot’s Four Quartets; famously Eliot was hugely influenced by Beethoven’s late quartets when writing his magnum opus so music and poetry come full circle with Gubaidulina’s setting.

                                               

Gubaidulina has spoken of the sadness at the heart of my music, which is partly a Russian thing – Russian music is always about pain. However Gubaidulina felt she had found a kindred spirit in Eliot: His thinking about time – that past, present and future contain each other – very much struck my mystical thoughts about eternity. She was especially taken by his verses on the problem of creation, where every attempt is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure. As she put it herself: All my work is just attempts. I know that when I write that it will never fulfil my intuitive hopes for it – that is why it is sad. However for us lesser mortals the results are hugely impressive – and, in this case, deeply moving.

The whole work is played without a break and from the jagged opening phrases in the violins to the organ-like chords that precede the strange coda in the first strings-only movement, we aware that we are in the presence of a great composer. The short second wind trio movement is opened to great effect by the horn, while the soprano is introduced in the third movement a capella  - at the still point of the turning world. The string quintet returns for the mysterious, pizzicato fourth movement leading directly to the ceremonial opening of the terrifying fifth movement. To a gradually intensifying procession of savage string chords the soprano enters in a wordless duet with the horn until eventually Eliot’s gruesome text gradually takes shape as the strings grow fiercer and fiercer. Slowly the ensemble, not without protest, collapses, leaving the soprano on her own with the dripping blood.

The gentle sixth movement for clarinet and string trio provides unexpected and much needed lyricism. Eliot’s test comes to mind:

Love is most nearly itself

When here and now cease to matter,

Old men ought to be explorers

Here and there does not matter

We must be still and still moving

Into another intensity.

This other intensity follows in a movement of overwhelming power and flaming beauty. Gubaidulina builds up over twenty pages of the score to an incandescent setting of the final mystical stanza of Eliot’s fourth Quartet where the rose and the fire become one. We could not be further from Schubert’s lovely Octet and the Festival’s original plan to follow in the commissioner’s footsteps collapsed in the face of this devastating music.