Without relent – Raising questions, finding answers

Forward! © Charles Thibo

Schnell und rastlos – quick and restless – is the name of the first movement of Wolfgang Rihm’s String Quartet No. 5, a piece that itself has no proper name. Quick and restless – that’s me, to the great despair of my contemporaries. I have little patience and I like to get things done fast. At times my attention span is limited too, and I like to do several things at the same time usually messing up one or two. Quick and restless – is that the corollary to an ardent desire to live, to see, to hear, to do? I suppose it is.

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Shaping and experiencing time through music

Verunelli tune retune
Moebius loop. © Charles Thibo

“There are two kind of music: Music you can register passively – like an appearance.  And music that forces you to think, that you have to embrace actively by attentively following what’s happening.” This is the credo of the Italian contemporary composer Francesca Verunelli. She finds it fascinating that the audience needs to become involved and experiences the music through its own personal expectations. “I never try to illustrate something with my music. I don’t write Programmmusik […] Through the titles [of my works], I try to describe the poetic content of the music”, she said in an interview in 2016.

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A modern mass for modern-day heroes

chagall church window

All Saints Day. The Catholic world honours today those who died as martyrs and were canonized. These people died because they believed in the God revealed through Jesus. They were persecuted by Roman emperors, Muslim invaders, Protestant opponents and modern-day tyrants. How valuable a cause must it be to be ready to die for it? Isn’t it strange that some would rather die for their country in a military conflict than stand up for a domestic policy cause like the defense of human rights?

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Minimalist art for piano, viola and clarinet

combo-kurtag-schumann final
From Schumann to Kurtag. © Charles Thibo

It took a minute until I understood: R. Sch. Hommage à R. Sch. Robert Schumann. It was late at night, I was tired and my last intellectual effort of the day dealt with the 10th anniversary of the Japanese music festival Viola Space in 2002. One of the pieces performed there was György “Hommage à R. Sch.”, composed in 1990 for clarinet, viola and piano, Op.15/d. Schumann was an avid reader of Romantic books, like those written by the German novelists Jean Paul and E. T. A. Richter. Kurtag, a contemporary Hungarian composer, wrote this piece as a reverence to Schumann, the fictive persons Eusebius, Florestan and Master Raro, two of them being used by Schumann as pen names, and the Kapellmeister Kreisler that gave Schumann’s “Kreisleriana” its name.

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