Loop Way to London

Konzipiert für das Finale des internationalen Moeck/SRP Wettbewerb 2017, London.


Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), Kyrie

Biagio Marini (1594-1663), Sonata variata op.2

Anonymous, published by Christophe Ballard (1703), „J’avois cru qu‘en vous aymant“ 

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), Fantasia Nr.9

­­­­­­­­­­­Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Flute Sonata BWV 1034, Adagio, Allegro, Andante, Allegro

Peter Hannan (*1953), RSRCH 12/84 „Dream“ 

Nicola Matteis (1650?-1703?), Ground after the Scotch Humour


Zum Programm:

My program invites you to join me and my accompanist on our trip to London. We set off in medieval Germany, and then take a (de)tour through time, through different styles, countries, atmospheres. Our goal is London, the here and now, marked by a contemporary piece which was - according to a note in the score - composed in London.

My dictionary suggested the word „loop way“ as a synonym for detour. Although none of my native English speaking friends knew this term, I preferred it to detour. It not only captures the fact that we don’t take the direct route but go from Germany to Italy to France, back to Germany, and just then from there to Great Britain. It also points out that the majority of the pieces I have chosen, use one or another kind of repetitive “loop” technique, on which variations are then made.

Before setting off on our journey, we ask Hildegard von Bingen for a travel blessing. Worshiped as she was, in both the Anglican and Catholic churches, Hildegard links our place of departure to our destination.

Germany and Italy are linked by the eccentric early-baroque composer Biagio Marini. His “Sonata variata”, published in 1629, was probably written while he was working for a German duke. Like a miniature opera, the piece leads us through a firework display of different affects, the title “variata” probably refering to some repeating bass patterns.

The last sparkles of the fireworks fade away as we move on to early 18th-century France. “J’avois crû qu’en vous aimant” stems from a collection of songs by various composers put together by Christophe Ballard, published in 1703. It is a lamentation of an unfulfilled love promise. Again, the bass loops, while the solo voice develops its initially simple melody into an increasingly ornamented one. Who knows if a broken heart isn’t one of the reasons why we wish to leave the continent?

But first Georg Phillip Telemann intervenes, trying to reconcile our lovers by melting together the French and the German style. Since even the shiny sounding A-Major, in which I play the fantasia Nr.9, can’t convince us to stay, we at least promise Georg to take some of his recently elaborated flower seeds to his friend Händel in London. We are about to leave, when Johann Sebastian Bach puts himself in our way. He insists on making a last German monumental statement - not to keep us back, but to make us not forget our origins. He even considers our need for loops in the ground-like bass of the third movement. His youngest son, Johann Christian, offers us his couch to sleep on during the first days in London.

London, apparently, is the place where we are supposed to do research into our dreams. Why did we come here? What do we want? RSRCH “Dream” (1984) by Peter Hannan is a study about multiphonics. The very limited choice of musical parameters and the rather meditative introduction might even remind one of Hildegard. Did we come here only to find what we just left - are we actually just looping back? But the slightly varied repetitions of the same notes shift, step by step,  into rhythmically rich variations. I leave it to you to decide if this research sounds like a progressive development – or like turning around in circles instead of finding something.

But eventually, we take the British solution: Humour. Don’t take it too seriously. And maybe it’s already time for tea. So let’s indulge ourselves with a last loop: “Ground after the Scotch Humour”, written by Nicola Matteis, who is said to have emigrated, backpacking from Italy via Germany to London, at the end of the 17th century.