mezzo soprano and chamber ensemble of 23 players
Mezzo-soprano, Mixed Chamber Ensemble
Rainer Maria Rilke/Eugenio Montale
Instrumentation bcl.1(=cbsn) - 2110 - perc (2): vib/glsp/crot/2 tuned gongs/2 tgl/susp.cym/2 metal bars/2 tam-t - harp - pno - 2 vln.3 vla.2 vlc.db
1 female voice
French, Italian

Commissioned by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group with financial assistance from the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England, and the following Sound Investors through BCMG's Sound Investment Scheme: Robert Allan; Jill Hoyland; Catherine & Derrick Archer; Rowan Huggins; Lawrence Bacon & Jean Scott; David & Ann Inman; (in celebration of the birth of Sophie); Brigitte Johansen; Alex Baring; Stephen Johnson & Deborah Richardson; John Barrett; Dennis & Mary Jones; Louis Berrow; Martyn Leighton; George Caird; Jennie McGregor-Smith; Alan S Carr; David Pack; Christopher Carrier; David J Reeve;John Christophers; Mark Reid; Simon and Sue Clugston; Mark Robinson; Ewers family; Phil Saunders; Peter Fell; John Smaje; Anne & David Fisk; Edward Smith; Professor Michael Bentley; Michael Squires; (on the occasion of his 50th birthday); Carolyn & Richard Sugden; Darren Giddings; Anne Sweet; Nigel Goulty; Bart Veer; Richard Hartree; Alex Vernon; Jim Hawkins; Mrs Janet Waterhouse; John F Hayes; Owen G Watkins; Eleanor & John Hind; Philippa Wright; Julia Hoyland

First Performance
10.10.2000, Barbican Hall, London, UK: Cynthia Clarey/Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/Sir Simon Rattle

Full score, vocal score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Colin Matthews Continuum Over the three years in which I've been working on it, Continuum has changed and evolved, and its final shape bears little resemblance to my original plans for the work. In particular, the vocal element has grown to dominate, so that instead of my earlier intention to have two sung interludes, it is the instrumental sections which have become more to resemble interludes in what now seems almost like a 'scena' for voice and large ensemble (23 players). Yet if it is a scena, then there is no definable plot: the texts I've chosen to set are not narratives, but highly complex and elusive poems. Consequently I'm not sure - since, at the time of writing this note, I'm too close still to the piece to look at it objectively - if I can be more specific about the overall theme, other than using the imprecise words, change and transience. Two poems by Eugenio Montale (1896 -1981) are the centre of the work, both coming from his first published collection of 1925 : Crisalide (Chrysalis) and Casa sul mare (House by the sea). The first of these is set in the original Italian, the second in the fine English translation by Jonathan Galassi. They are framed by two epigrammatic fragments from the French poems Rilke wrote towards the end of his life (coincidentally also from around 1925). I hope that these difficult and dense texts can be left to speak for themselves, and that I can be forgiven for not trying to interpret them other than through their setting. The instrumental 'interludes' - although calling them that belies the fact that they carry equal musical weight - come at the end of Crisalide : a turbulent continuation of the poem, spilling over into a sombre postlude; and before the final stanza of Casa sul mare - an almost funeral-march like interruption of the poem. The closing Rilke epigram echoes the opening: just as a continuum has no end, so the work spirals back to its beginning. I am very grateful to Simon Clugston, Simon Rattle and the BCMG - to whom Continuum is jointly dedicated - both for commissioning the work, and for their patience as it changed out of all recognition while they waited for it to arrive. Colin Matthews

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