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Sacrum Profanum Festiwal

SACRUM PROFANUM #17: MINIMALISM AND COMPLEXITY

2019-10-01
The fourth day of this year’s Sacrum Profanum was based on extremes, combining improvisation with field recordings, juxtaposing drones with breakneck melodic sequences. The Inward Music concert opened with of a far-off by Lithuanian composer Gailė Griciūtė for acoustic guitar, flute and cello, which was inspired by the work of Webern, especially his Four Songs op. 12. Individual, independent instruments built the drama of the work both in a monologue and responding to each other. Different part came to the foreground at different times, momentarily gaining the attention of the listener with a sudden frullato or a long, expressive glissando. There was a lot of noise, a lot of delicacy and transience in the playing.

That evening, Griciūtė also appeared at a prepared piano, performing Arturas Bumšteinas’ vvalking along for improvising soloists and field recordings of random music with other members of the Works & Days Ensemble (the festival performance was recorded for Bôłt Records). It was an invitation to go for a walk through the city together, to carefully collect sounds of the audiosphere. Slowly growing and decaying sounds of passing cars, birdsong or street musicians dialogued with the sounds performed live – with the basis for improvisation being the only guidelines individually prepared for each of the musicians. As the composer comments on the piece: “nature and culture collide and mix, thus contributing to the building of reality” – live sounds penetrated into the previously recorded sounds, stuck to them, gently touched the sounds they played, then withdrew again, allowing them to permeate each other. For the listeners, the interaction between the recorded and unchanging and the living and fleeting was an almost hour-long practice of mindfulness in a complex and diverse world of sounds.

The Arditti Quartet concert juxtaposed minimalism and complexity. Rich in sound, full of sonoristic effects, Disparate Stairway Radical Other by Lucia Dlugoszewski – a composer just being discovered in Poland – constantly strove to rise as if the melody wanted to go beyond the scale of the violin. Constant changes of performance ideas, interweaving of short, energetic melodic-rhythmic motifs and a variety of articulations propelled the drama of the composition, constantly focusing the attention of the listener. Tanyi Tagaq’s Sivunittinni, a work dedicated to the Kronos Quartet, is a transcription of singing – the loud, sharp sounds brought to mind the guttural vocalisations with which the composer and vocalist likes to play, and the gradually modified short motifs evoked associations with free improvisation. The minimalism of the evening was represented by Éliane Radigue’s Occam II for solo violin and Phill Niblock’s Exploratory, Rhine version, “Looking for Daniel” for orchestra, performed by 5 string quartets (the Arditti Quartet on stage was multiplied electronically).

Radigue’s piece was played by Irvine Arditti, the leader of the ensemble, who was orally given the shape of the composition by Silvia Tarozzi, a violinist working with Radigue. Drones were slowly climbing from the lowest sounds of the instrument to the top of the scale, giving the listener time to penetrate its structure and allowing them to undergo the changes taking place. Occam II was contrasted with the thick, complex texture of Niblock’s work. It wasn’t about development or about catching changes in the cluster; it was about mastering the sound and vibrations, physically feeling the sounds. Static music vibrated like water at a projection, hypnotically punctuating the fourth day of the festival.

Maryla Zając for the Sacrum Profanum Festival