STILL THE LIGHT BURNS (2013)
Duration: c. 9 minutes
2. Hoquetus piangere
3. Canone rilassato
4. Cantabile instabile
5. Canone energico
6. In volo luminoso
Still the Light Burns is a sonata of interrelated movements dealing with music from my opera Climbing Toward Midnight. The title is taken from a line by the Expressionist poet Georg Trakl that forms the central dramatic panel in Act II of the opera. The musical phrase Kundry sings- “O how still the light burns”- forms the basis for all the movements’ variations whether sobbing, singing, flying or in various states of canon.
The first movement is a prelude which launches the violin high, yet burns up very quickly. The ‘weeping hocket’ of the second movement sees the instruments completing each other’s drooping phrases while gradually gaining traction and momentum in knotted counterpoint. The two canons either side of the central slow movement are the identical in content, yet sharply contrasted in character. They summarise the work’s harmony as linear melody. The slow movement itself is a set of variations gradually revealing its latent origins in opera. The finale flies fast and canonic, pausing only to bring the first movement its long-awaited climax before a concluding headlong flourish.
First performed 4 May 2013, The Rocks Windmill, Sydney by Doretta Balkizas & Jack Symonds
FIVE POSTSCRIPTS (2013)
Duration: c. 5 minutes
Designed as a companion piece to Still the Light Burns, these miniatures are reflections of some of the larger piece’s musical concerns and obsessions.
The first is high and immobile, suspended in the air before a single fall and ascent which will be a feature of all the movements. The second is two simple gestures- a quick dialogue and a rhythmic disintegration. The third is a palindrome around a phrase from Zemlinsky’s rapturous opera Der Traumgörge where the central character asks the meaning of artistic beauty from a mirror. The fourth movement is a tiny mensuration canon which prefigures the final barcarolle- a last tribute to Henze gathering in all the other postscripts.
First performed 26 March, ANAM, Melbourne by Doretta Balkizas & Jack Symonds