Friday, June 10 / 8:00 p.m. / Church of St. Barbara
Marek Kopelent: Karrak (1991) for Cello and Piano
Jiří Bárta – cello, Terezie Fialová – piano
Erwin Schulhoff: In Futurum (from the cycle Fünf Pittoresken Op. 31
Terezie Fialová – piano
Vít Zouhar: As There Is Water (1994) for Clarinet, Bassoon and Piano
Michel Raison – clarinet, Jan Hudeček – bassoon, Terezie Fialová – piano
Wofgang Amadeus Mozart: Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano in E flat major, K 498 “Kegelstadttrio”
Michel Raison – clarinet, Karel Untermüller – viola, Terezie Fialová – piano
Yves Klein: Monotone-Silence Symphony
Michel Raison – clarinet, Karel Untermüller – viola, Jan Hudeček – bassoon
Terezie Fialová – piano, Jiří Bárta – cello/synthesizer, Viktor Darebný – organ
Tyl Teachers Choir and Gaudeamus Student Choir, Zdeněk Licek – choirmaster
Claude Debussy once wrote that music did not consist in notes but in the space between them. The two-thousand-year-old Japanese “dotaku” bell was built to remain silent, buried under the ground as part of a religious rite.
The (in)finite expanses of the universe are permeated by silence, as is the eternal slumber of our forebears. An evening in Saint Barbara´s Church, dedicated to silence – come join us in listening.
The contrast of music and silence is parallel to that of yin and yang: two opposite energies which are at the same time complementary with each other. Are we in our deafeningly loud time still able to immerse ourselves in silence? Tonight´s programme will test our capacity in this respect. This, to be sure, does not necessarily imply the need to engage in serious contemplation: indeed, a composer may just as well draw appropriate motivation from humour (as is the case of Schulhoff here), or simply a knack for experimentation.
Marek Kopelent (b. 1932) is one of those composers who joined, back in the 1960s, the movement of what has become known as New Music, an avant-garde trend that was suppressed by this country´s communist regime. Kopelent then found his individual idiom in the field of spiritually oriented music. His composition Karrak dates from 1991, a time by when, following years of repression and marginalization, the composer had finally got official satisfaction.
Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942), a native of Prague, dedicated his Fünf Pitoresken, Op. 31, to the Dadaist artist, Georg Grosz. In this work, the talented pianist and composer furnished manifest proof of both his visionary disposition, and his empathy for current tendencies in music. Four of its five parts are rooted in jazz (Foxtrott/Ragtime/One-Step/Maxixe), ranking Schulhoff alongside the first Central European composers who introduced jazz idioms to the concert platform. The third part of the Pitoresques can be bracketed as “Dadaist”. It is a “composition for silence”, very much like John Cage´s famous piece 3:44, written thirty-three years later(!). For its part, Schulhoff´s one-page score entitled In Futurum contains a plethora of rests distributed between both “hands”, without a single note. Its duration is left up to the approach – or perhaps courage – of the interpreter.
Vít Zouhar (b. 1966) is a musicologist, theorist, educator, and composer of primarily operas, but also of multimedia works. His music is accessible yet never ingratiatingly so. It has its own, unobtrusive way of inviting us to its sonic worlds. “I very much dote on what may appear to be silence, and on careful selection, in the same way as I rejoice over unexpected surprises. While composing or analysing, I concentrate in equal measure on details and on the proportions of the whole. At the same time I enjoy collecting, most often just to reposit what I find in my memory – unexpected sounds, such that surprise me”, says Zouhar. He wrote the composition Like Water Is…. The composition Like Water Is for three instruments emanates from absolute silence enveloping a solitary tone, using a sequence of repeated patterns in a gradation all the way up to the very end.
Like in the case of his Clarinet Quintet, Mozart drew inspiration for the so-called Kegelstatt-Trio from the playing skills of Anton Stadler. “I would have never believed that the clarinet could imitate the human voice in a way that you have done it. Your instrument indeed has so tender and fine a tone as to make it irresistible to anyone,” the composer wrote to Stadler. The trio´s title is very stark, as was typical of Mozart, with the first page of the autograph carrying the date of its composition, plus the note, “while playing skittles”.
Yves Klein (1928-1962) was one of those visionaries who profoundly influenced the development of art in the 20th century. He ushered into the visual art elements of happening, and became one of the first exponents of monochrome painting. One of his creations which relates to tonight´s programme was a work entitled Le Vide, “The Void”. It consisted of a gallery space painted white, and otherwise completely emptied. Klein then gave to the “nothing” that remained the form of a “symphony” which he named Monoton-Silence.
The artist himself described his work as follows: “During the phase of concentration, around the years 1947-1948, I created a monotonous symphony whose subject was the expression of what I wished to be my life. This forty-minute symphony was made up of a single uninterrupted sound, continually extended, having no beginning and no end, which induced a sensation of vertigo and an aspiration driven beyond the boundaries of time. Not even in its present moment, then, does this symphony really exist. It exists outside of the phenomenology of time, as it is neither born and nor does it die, it belongs after existence. In the world of our capacities of conscious perception, however, it is silence – the audible presence”.
sleeve-note: Dita Hradecká / translation: Ivan Vomáčka