2 Rilke Lieder

for soprano, viola/viola d’amore & clarinet (2014)

Duration: c. 9 minutes

Rilke’s Die Engel and Lösch mir die Augen aus are two poems which display his visionary conception of the spiritual and of love.

In Die Engel, the five movements of the composition cut across Rilke’s text overlaying a new structure on his mystical evocation of a terrifying angel. The ‘Alpha-and-Omega’ quality of this figure is here represented by palindromes both exact and inexact. The outer movements are exact palindromes, the second and fourth fast movements are gestural palindromic variations, and the central slow movement contains palindromic interval shapes.

In contrast, Liebeslied fanatically dissects Rilke’s extraordinary nine-line evocation of a love so powerful it can transcend the body into a nine-part form made of collections of genre pieces, each colouring a single line. First come a series of four variations on a chord, widening the expressive extreme until almost breaking. Next is a pair of Hommages- the first is to Salvatore Sciarrino, where the ‘breaking’ is here achieved with his characteristic splintered quietude. Next is a genuflection to Hans Werner Henze- describing hands and hearts-, which strings together tiny splinters from some of his most rapturous passages. Finally, three quick canons all run together, contorting themselves in increasingly complex contrapuntal formations until a canon at the unison ties an open-ended knot. 

Commissioned by Jane Sheldon for performance at her first Symbiosis Concert, 18 July 2014

Die Engel

Performed by Jane Sheldon (soprano), James Wannan (viola/ viola d’amore) and Jason Noble (clarinet)

Score sample here

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