Apropos Klee

 

four pieces for mixed choir, piano, clarinet, bass clarinet (1 player), and percussion (1 player) on paintinfs by Paul Klee (2000). 17'

 
 

Paul Klee has always seemed to me the most musical painter of the twentieth century. His ambition, as well as that of Kandinsky, was to come in his paintings as close as possible to the abstract world of sensations characteristic of music. This finds its expression in endless variations: at times, it is expressed in a rather direct way in paintings like The Drummer, Heroic Fiddling, Fugue in Red, etc. At times the approach is more subtle as in Ancient Sound, Pastorale, Harmony of Northern Bloom, Polyphonically Shaped White, etc. However, beyond the titles of the paintings, Klee's world is basically a lyric-colorful-structural one, nearing the essence of music more than that of any other painter.

Klee himself was a highly professional violinist and early in his life he considered embarking on a musical career, but he came to the conclusion that painting was more appropriate for his spiritual world and poured the music of his soul onto the many canvases he painted. Most of his paintings are of small dimensions and many of them remind me of the term "Moment Musical", both as far as size and concentration on few basic elements are concerned.

In this work, my relation to the paintings is sometimes free-associative and sometimes more direct.

The work was commissioned by the Saarland Radio Choir directed by Georg Gruen and was premiered on October 1st 2000 at the Hannover Expo 2000.

In the first movement, Benedictus inspired by Alter Klang (Ancient Sound) my point of departure was the voice leading and harmonies characteristic of early church music. The choir sings a-capella a verse from psalm 118 (Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini).The use of Latin (rather than the original Hebrew) was meant to add to the archaic, church-like atmosphere. However, later in the movement we move on to a world of more abstract sonorities belonging to our time.

In the first movement, Benedictus inspired by Alter Klang (Ancient Sound) my point of departure was the voice leading and harmonies characteristic of early church music. The choir sings a-capella a verse from psalm 118 (Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini).The use of Latin (rather than the original Hebrew) was meant to add to the archaic, church-like atmosphere. However, later in the movement we move on to a world of more abstract sonorities belonging to our time.

In Fuge in Rot (Fugue in Red) the first part of the piece consists of instrumental fugato sections. Later on the choir joins in with a recited fugal exposition, which towards the end transforms into singing. The German text occurred to me while composing the music.

In Fuge in Rot (Fugue in Red) the first part of the piece consists of instrumental fugato sections. Later on the choir joins in with a recited fugal exposition, which towards the end transforms into singing. The German text occurred to me while composing the music.

Insula Dulcamara is one of Klee's most famous paintings. It turns out that Klee had first intended to call it The Island of Calypso based on Homer's saga about Odysseus. However, he then thought this title was too obvious. As a suitable text for this movement I found a beautiful, picturesque poem by the Israeli renowned poetess Lea Goldberg, describing the agony of the forsaken Calypso.

Insula Dulcamara is one of Klee's most famous paintings. It turns out that Klee had first intended to call it The Island of Calypso based on Homer's saga about Odysseus. However, he then thought this title was too obvious. As a suitable text for this movement I found a beautiful, picturesque poem by the Israeli renowned poetess Lea Goldberg, describing the agony of the forsaken Calypso.

Die Zwitscher-Maschine (The Twittering Machine) has already stimulated a number of composers to write music on this theme. I chose to use in my music vocal sounds and syllables which have only a sonoric meaning. Sometimes these "quasi-words" were composed before the sounds and sometimes vice versa. At times it happened simultaneously.

Die Zwitscher-Maschine (The Twittering Machine) has already stimulated a number of composers to write music on this theme. I chose to use in my music vocal sounds and syllables which have only a sonoric meaning. Sometimes these "quasi-words" were composed before the sounds and sometimes vice versa. At times it happened simultaneously.