Sprechgesang

(2007)

by Jonathan Harvey

Description
oboe/cor anglais and chamber ensemble of 13 players
Duration
10
Genres
Mixed Chamber Ensemble, Solo Instrument with Ensemble
Instrumentation
1(=picc).1.0.1(=small tgl) - 1.1.tenor trbn - perc(1): t.bells/2-octave crot/balafon(small African xylophone)/small tgl/medium-large tam-t/medium susp.cym/hi-hat.cym/small drum/3 tpl.bl/1 small wdbl/mcas/medium guero - pno - 2vln.vla.vlc.db
Commission
Commissioned by the Klangforum Wien, Asko Ensemble & musikFabrik
First Performance
15.4.07, WDR Funkhaus am Wallrafplatz, Cologne, Germany: Peter Veale/musikFabrik/Peter Rundel
Availability

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
The basis of the piece is a meditation on the nature of speech as sound. How might it be imagined as originating? What are its psychological roots? When does music draw close to the phraseology, structure and melody of speech? For me, as for certain writers and anthropologists, speech is intimately connected with one's mother. The unique period of helpless dependency that the 'human animal' spends with the mother after (even before) birth is infused with speech, or speech-like noises. The voice of the mother is the original, profound, emotional and comforting sound. It sometimes becomes 'song'. At the half-way point of Sprechgesang there is a reference to Wagner, to a moment when Parsifal 'hears' the long-forgotten voice of his dead mother call the name, his own name, that he had forgotten - an action of the shamanistic Kundry. From this awakening, this healing, comes the birth of song from the meaningless chatter of endless human discourse. 'Speech' with deep meaning... I'm extremely grateful to Peter Veale for helping me with the oboe and cor anglais writing so generously. The work is dedicated to the three superb ensembles who have commissioned it: Musikfabrik, Asko and Klangforum, Wien. Jonathan Harvey

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