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Francis Burt: Echoes

  • for 9 players
  • fl, cl, hn, tpt, perc, pno, vln, vla, vc
  • Duration: 10’
  • Instrumentation details:
    fl, Kl - hr, tpt - perc - pno - vln, vla, vc
  • Composer: Francis Burt

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Work introduction

Echoes for nine players, composed 1988/89, was also inspired by a metaphysical subject, elucidating a motto by Peter Huchel and at the same time translating into music universal gestural and scenic images. The motto “Die Gaukler sind fort. Sie gingen lautlos dem weißen Wasser nach” [The clowns have gone. They silently followed the white waters] engendered the initial trumpet-calls which remain present in various transformations throughout the piece. “Miniclusters”, often bundled on three levels, lead to linear developments, that is to say, three 3-part melodic skeins form a “poly-linear” contrapuntal web of considerable density. The linearly directed sonic areas of “Unter der blanken Hacke des Monds” appear adapted to chamber music, the dramatic impact of “The Golem” symbolically refined and the impressions of “Morgana” clarified in meaning. And just as the development of Burt’s idiom from work to work took place with absolutely logical intent, just as every work seemed to be the sum and result of all previous works, so the “Echoes” represent the provisional summing up of a development, the consequentiality of which impressed from the start.

Francis Burt commented on his work as follows: “Using the disappearance of the clowns and other archetypal figures as metaphor, Peter Huchel laments the exodus of the divine from the world. My work begins and ends with trumpet-calls, for the trumpet was always an instrument of the clowns and jugglers. But is it really possible – without scruple and, as so many composers do today, directly and without irony or comment – to transfer motifs from past epochs, which are laden with associations, into a completely foreign context? Or have the colourful figures of the musical past vanished like those in Peter Huchel's poem? Have they followed the white waters, leaving only their echoes behind?

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