Posts Tagged ‘J.S. Bach’

Desmond Painter. Gubaidulina, Bach, Eliot

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Alfred Schnittke en Sofia Gubaidulina is twee van die belangrikste Russiese komponiste van onlangse tye — oftewel, sedert die dood van Dmitri Sjostakovitsj in 1976.

Ek het Schnittke (1934-1998) ‘n jaar of wat gelede die eerste keer ontdek, en sedertdien is ek ‘n groot aanhanger van sy werk. Sy concerto vir altviool, sy klavierkwintet en sy eerste klaviersonate tel onder die mees opwindende musiek waaraan ek onlangs blootgestel is.

Sofia Gubaidulina

Sofia Gubaidulina

Meer onlangs (en tot my vreugde) het ek Gubaidulina (1931-) ook ontdek. Haar werk verras telkens met vreemde instrumente — en met vreemde kombinasies van instrumente. Daar is ook deurgans ‘n religieuse en mistiese kwaliteit in haar werk, iets wat haar, ten spyte van die soms radikale andersheid van haar klankwêreld, tog intiem verbind aan J.S. Bach. Haar Offertorium: Concerto vir Viool en Orkes, uit 1980, is byvoorbeeld gebaseer op ‘n tema uit Bach se bekende “Musikale Offergawe”.

Vanoggend — en dit is waarom ek oor haar skryf — luister ek egter na een van haar werke wat ingegee is deur ‘n meer direkte digterlike inspirasie: Hommage à T.S. Eliot, vir oktet en sopraan (1987). Die grootste deel van hierdie komposisie bestaan uit Gubaidulina se musikale “interpretasie” van Eliot se grootse siklus, Four Quartets; maar in drie van die sewe dele sing die sopraan wel toonsettings van kort gedeeltes uit “Burnt Norton”, “East Coker” en “Little Gidding”. Dit is ‘n aangrypende werk. Hier volg die gedeeltes uit Eliot wat gesing word:

 

Time and the bell have buried the day,

The black cloud carries the sun away.

Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis

Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray

Clutch and cling?

 

Chill

Fingers of yew be curled

Down on us? After the kingfisher’s wing

Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still.

At the still point of the turning world.

(“Burnt Norton”, IV)

 

The chill ascends from feet to knees,

The fever sings in mental wires.

If to be warmed, then I must freeze

And quake in rigid purgatorial fires

Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,

The bloody flesh our only food:

In spite of which we like to think

That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood —

Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

(“East Coker”, IV)

 

Sin is behovely, but

All shall be well…

 

And all shall be well and

All manner of things shall be well

When the tongues of flames are in-folded

Into the crowned knot of fire

And the fire and the rose are one.

(“Little Gidding”, III & V)

Desmond Painter. Amos Oz oor musiek, poësie en skryf

Thursday, May 20th, 2010
Amos Oz

Amos Oz

In die April uitgawe van die musiektydskrif Gramophone verskyn daar ‘n interessante artikel deur die bekende Israeliese skrywer, Amos Oz, oor die rol van musiek in sy werk.

Oz begin met ‘n mooi beeld van homself as ‘n jong, arm seun in Jerusalem, sonder toegang tot ‘n platespeler of selfs ‘n radio, maar meegevoer deur die klanke van ‘n buurvrou se klavier. Later, toe hy in ‘n kibbutz gaan woon het, is sy toegang tot musiek verbreed:

“It wasn’t only classical music I loved. Israeli folk music is a wonderful phenomenon, which incorporates a broad spectrum of musical styles. Much of it was written by fine composers, in many cases immigrants from western and central Europe who fascinatingly were combining ideas of European compositions with Eastern styles. They deliberately invested some of their creative genius in writing folksongs and melodies for poetry. There can be few other countries in the world where so much poetry has been adapted for melodic treatments — poems by Bialik and Alterman and many others. For me music became inseperable from poetry.”

Volgens Oz het musiek dan ook ‘n direkte invloed op sy skryfwerk: “I wrote a whole book, The same C, in the form of a madrigal, as an assembly of voices. It was conceived as a work of music as much as a work of literature. It is even written partly in verse and partly in prose to blur the lines between music and literature. And now, in fact, it is being adapted into an opera by the Italian composer Fabio Vacchi. I was elated! It will be a homecoming for this work.”

Ek vind dit nogal interessant dat Oz die roman onder bespreking The Same C noem, en nie The Same Sea, soos dit in Engelse vertaling gepubliseer is nie. Ek kon nie ‘n uitgawe opspoor waarvan die titel The Same C is nie, en ek weet ook nie wat die letterlike vertaling van die oorspronklike titel is nie. Die verwysing na “C” maak sy musikale intensies natuurlik baie duidelik…

Oz gaan verder en sê dat hy sy kortverhale altyd in terme van kamermusiek konsipieer en skryf. “I wrote one with four characters and thought of it specifically as a string quartet.” Hy beskou hierdie musikale benadering tot sy literêre produksie as meer as net persoonlike gril, en inderdaad as deel van die Joodse tradisie: “Jewish tradition itself is in many ways like the interaction between chamber musicians. Judaism is not a soloist tradition — it is an articulate tradition, a culture of doubt and argument and ever since its beginnings, since the Torah, Jews were arguing. They argued in many voices, in dialogues, in trialogues, in assemblies. This is a polyphonic tradition.” Hy verwys dan ook na sy jongste versameling kortverhale, Scenes from a Village Life, as ‘n stel variasies op ‘n spesifieke tema.

En die een musiekstuk waarsonder Amos Oz hom die lewe nie kan voorstel nie? J.S. Bach se Cantata BWV 106, die “Actus Tragicus”. ‘n Man met smaak.

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