(Variation no. 1 )
These three Variations represent a short essay in harmonic projection and time compression. The orchestral space becomes the playground where a melodic line is expanded and explored from a harmonic perspective, while the pace of change of different musical objects generated by the fragments of the melody increases dramatically.
The original model for the harmonic structure of the work is no. 2 from Per Iona, an earlier piece for solo piano.
3. Più mosso
Two short piano pieces dedicated to Iona Schloessingk. The first inhabits a vast space, held together by a simple melodic thread. The second explores the harmonic depth of a more articulated melodic line, and provides the model for a later, much larger work for orchestra, Three Variations.
The title of this work for large orchestra is the last line from Boys And Girls Between The Wars, a poem by Sebastian Schloessingk that I also set to music. The original work for voice and four instruments is the starting point for …the sun is out, the sun is out . The instrumental gestures and the vocal line from the chamber music work are projected and expanded in a vast orchestral space, and acquire a completely new dimension. This process of transcription, of reading again and translating the same material in different forms, obviously inspired by the lesson of Berio, has always fascinated me.
In Boys And Girls Between The Wars I wanted to use Sebastian Schloessingk’s poem – both its phonetics and content – as the source of all the musical ideas. The text generates a form for the composition, and the music occupies a vast territory between onomatopeia and metaphor, bringing to life contrasting musical objects held together by subtle harmonic relations. This piece serves also as the model for a later orchestral piece, …the sun is out, the sun is out.
Finally, Boys And Girls Between The Wars is also a profoundly felt homage to the wonderful Chansons madécasses by Maurice Ravel, one of the highlights of vocal music of all times, written for the same instrumental ensemble.
Written in 1994 and revised in 2001, Boys And Girls Between The Wars was premiered by Sarah Busfield, voice, and the Thallein Ensemble conducted by Liz Johnson on 27 June 2001, Birmingham Conservatoire, Recital Hall.
* * *
Clouds move in parallel rows
granting the sun stern terms,
So when the clouds pull off in all
directions, like torture horses,
a camera’s shutter,
birds from shot, salt water
from a rock, this is childish.
A big child in a garden of bouncy
Original sky, fat bombers slog
across it, the child is a boy. Great flowers
dash up to the bombers’ lumber and pry
decorating round their legs, the child is
a girl, the sun is out, the sun is out.
© Sebastian Schloessingk
Three arrangements of traditional Sephardi melodies commissioned by Alberto Iona and the Toujours Ensemble to mark an important occasion of Turin’s Jewish community. Scored for baritone, flute, clarinet, guitar and cello.
Live recording of the first performance by Alberto Jona, baritone and the Toujours Ensemble. Turin, 1994.