Dear friends. Two National Days, two concerts with pieces of mine…
2016 definitely is year unlike former ones 🙂
11 July. Flanders feasts.
Liang-yu Wang played in France, and thus unrelated to the festivities in my country. It was an incredibly daring concert, featuring two sonatas. The 13th and the 19th. The latter got its world premiere.
The venue was the smallish concert hall of the Parisian ‘Cité des arts’. More than 300 artists from all over the world get the chance there to develop for quite a while a project they proposed to the board. Liang-yu chose to get involved in my sonatas. When I heard this, I immediately asked her if I could compose a sonata especially for her. She was very happy with my request and so in the end this piece got its premiere in Paris!…
The piece differs from the former sonatas. It’s the start of what I hope will become a new batch of six sonatas. Currently i’m halfway… Number 21 is finished, meaning still three to go… Not exactly a piece of cake… The luggage I have to carry while traveling in sonata country is getting heavier and heavier. But each time one of these pieces is eventually performed it becomes clear that every drop of sweat, every mili second of anxiousness is almost nothing compared to what the players have to go through when sitting behind their instrument and actually play the damn thing, trying to convince the audience that the sounds are worth their attention. Liang-yu did a great job. Must have been rather scary for her too, playing in front of an audience all steeped in creative processes.
The piece is called ‘(when close to the heart) nothing is enough.’
Especially the last words are important for this piece. This is a sonata which seeks to convey everything what I formerly tried to do, though far less exuberantly. Closer to the heart of the matter… Though it’s a tricky piece in the end…
Liang-yu suggested the underlying theme by introducing me to a famous poet of her country of birth, Taiwan.
There in Paris, during these magical moments generated by her nimble mind and nimble fingers, it really felt as if, for a while at least, East really met West…
21 July National Day of Belgium.
Yesterday evening, a piece of mine composed for SOV in 2004, has been performed in the BOZAR by the National Orchestra of Belgium, conducted by the very fine and fervent French conductor Alexandre Bloch.
One week ago Nice witnessed the terrible events which shook the world, also during a National Holiday. I couldn’t refrain myself thinking about this.
Also about the fact that one year ago it was my esteemed colleague Luc Brewaeys of whom a piece was played to celebrate the National Day. Meanwhile he died… My thoughts were with his widow Birgit and his children…
My piece which was well received and played very well by the orchestra is somewhat enigmatically called ‘Different from habit’. I got this from Strawinsky’s ‘Poétique musicale’ in which he explains the difference between tradition and habits. Habits are but an accumulation of personal tics, sometimes the result of a certain laziness of the artist; whereas tradition results from a conscious and deliberate acceptance.
In this piece I try to discard some of my own tics (fast tempi, fast zapping between never fully developed material…). ‘Traditional’ is the orchestral sound, which almost fully accepts the rules established in the beginning of the 20th century by Rimski Korsakov. All instruments play in their most comfortable ranges. And there are definitely hints of melody above harmonies driven by triadic relations.
The danger lurked to get a real traditional, stuffy piece. This was my challenge: make a piece which sounds like something which never could have composed 100 years ago, while having some of the outward characteristics of it.
it’s a gentle piece… Glockenspiel, marimba and vibraphone often color the textures. The harmonies sound familiar but mainly because of the stacked thirds, which inevitably produce a halo of overtones which we all recognize and cherish when listening for example to the orchestral piece of Ravel. Insidious dissonances are not eschewed, but carefully, in order to keep the overall warm sound.
Tradition and habits are for once not at war in this piece. Maybe a nice metaphor for a piece on this particular day and for these particular times.
Afterwards I was invited to meet the King and the Queen, princess Astrid and her husband Lorenz … All were very kind, charmed by the nice sounds of the music and a bit surprised of my slightly ‘different’ approach in composing contemporary music… 🙂
Here’s the link for the concert recorded for the rtbf television.