- Julia Wolfe (b. 1958)
- Composition Year
- Johannes Moser [cello], Pacifica Quartet (Simin Ganatra, Sibbi Bernhardsson [violins], Masumi Per Rostad [viola], Brandon Vamos [cello]) [quartet]
|Composer||Julia Wolfe (b. 1958)|
|Work Title||String Quintet ‘Splendid hopes’|
|Artist(s)||Johannes Moser [cello], Pacifica Quartet (Simin Ganatra, Sibbi Bernhardsson [violins], Masumi Per Rostad [viola], Brandon Vamos [cello]) [quartet]|
|Performance Date||Monday 3rd July 2017|
|Performance Venue||Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,|
|Event||Main Evening Concert|
|Recording Engineer||Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm|
|Instrumentation Category||String Quintet
|Programme Note Writer||© Francis Humphrys|
‘Splendid Hopes’ refers to Schubert’s emotional words, near the end of his short life, written in a letter to a friend. Though the letter is incredibly sad, the idea of ‘splendid hopes’ somehow shines out and gave me pause to think about the idea of hope. The piece does not quote Schubert (whose Quintet follows late night) but reflects the reach, desire, optimism, and struggle so often a part of hope.
Splendid Hopes was
written for cellist Johannes Moser and the Pacifica Quartet
- inspired by the power and depth of their playing.
Note by Julia Wolfe
Most of the work focuses on two ideas – a surging, glowing tremolo theme and a gentle chorale. The first two-thirds of this substantial work is a long exploration of the different possibilities of these two ideas. This process has been well described as a study in different flavours of tremolo within a complex web of dissonant chords. The music keeps reaching out for some kind of resolution but it keeps swerving away and the tension remains unresolved. Despite the composer’s reputation for iconoclasm, there is no aggression in this work and its most striking moments are the quiet ones when the music lingers on a single note.
The work’s final third does explode into a whirlwind of spectacular arpeggios, which at their peak transform into a chorale-like coda, whose abrupt conclusion is the most frightening moment of all. In sum this is beautiful and affecting music that paves the way for the same musicians’ late-night performance of Schubert’s last word on his splendid hopes.