Here [in circles]

description

In his Here trilogy, composer Van der Aa draws the listener into the musical exploration of the clash between the individual and his surroundings. His irrepressible fascination for theatrical and visual means is one recurring feature of the trilogy. A recognizable harmonic signature is evidence of his economical use of material. The harmonic DNA of the Here trilogy consists in each of the three sections of the same eleven chords, both in the orchestra and the soundtrack.

Here [in circles] is the heart of the trilogy, and in its instrumentation (five strings, trumpet, clarinet and bass clarinet, percussion and soprano) it is the most fragile and intimate section. The role of the soundtrack has been reduced to the most basic and spontaneous form possible. The soprano operates a cassette recorder on which she records herself and the ensemble in real time; she rewinds, fast-forwards and plays back, illuminating the cyclical hopelessness of the music on a small scale. It is worth noting that Van der Aa is the author of the texts sung by the ‘dramatis persona’ (the

Sony cassette recorderCassette recorder handled by the soprano

soprano) for Here [in circles] and Here [to be found]. An existing text would never be able to reflect the musical progress as organically as words the composer writes himself. And that very organic indivisibility of drama (text) and structure (music) is characteristic of Michel van der Aa’s compositional style, one that avoids ‘imposed emotionality’ at all costs.

Both in Here [in circles] and Here [to be found], the soprano undergoes a certain development. In their content, Van der Aa’s texts are intentionally murky, strengthening the intended ambiance of disengaged derangement. Words are employed as figurative colouring of the sound, not as literal transmitters of a particular message. ‘Music has the potential to be unspecific,’ says the composer. ‘It can suggest an ambiance and still leave room for the listener’s own imagination. The more concrete the text, the less three-dimensional the music.’

In Here [in circles] the dramatic ‘ego’ attempts to break loose from the cyclical progression of the music. The contact between the extremely virtuosic, harried soprano, the live ensemble, the soundtracks and the incisive snip and click sounds (a percussionist flicking fake electric switches) are alternately alarming and internalized. The music only reaches a kind of repose at the end, where the soprano enters into an emotional, schizophrenic dialogue with the shadows of her own voice on tape.
— Mischa Spel

Here [in circles] – Michel van der Aa
Eerie feeling of
recurrence. Before my helpless
sight, I find myself
rushing out again. The door
senses me, it hesitates
Once more I founder in
the cataract of details
Choking
Drowning. The trouble of a
solution ringing violently
in my ear. I call a name that the walls
give back to me
If I can fill the unforgiving
minute with seconds
worth of silence, find a frame
that brings no second motion,
I will harness myself
in rigid cobwebs. A sleep
that no pain shall wake. All that
uncovers me,
frozen
in hazy summer woods

instrumentation

for soprano and ensemble
2002

Soprano

1 clarinet (in B flat)
1 bass clarinet
1 trumpet (in C)

1 percussion player

Strings (1,1,1,1,1)

small cassette recorder, for example Sony TCM-939

details

Duration 15'
First performance 03 September 2002, ASKO Ensemble conducted by Etienne Siebens Barbara Hannigan, soprano
Commissioned by Gaudeamus, Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst
Published by Boosey & Hawkes

audio

Here [in circles]

Excerpt 1
Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, cond. Etienne Siebens
Claron McFadden, soprano
1:13 min. excerpt

Here [in circles]

Excerpt 2
Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, cond. Etienne Siebens
Claron McFadden, soprano
2:07 min. excerpt

video

Vrije Geluiden interview

Interview by Hans Flupsen.
VPRO Television, 2004.
44:57 min. | Dutch

performances

Last performance:

  • 26 October 2013
    Israel Contemporary Players / Zsolt Nagy
    Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel

Upcoming performances:

  • 30 April 2014
    London Sinfonietta
    Baldur Bronnimann, cond.
    Claron McFadden, sopr.
    Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London, United Kingdom
  • 27 May 2014
    E-mex ensemble
    730pm, Universit√§t der K√ľnste, Essen, Germany

publications