QUASI UN LAMENTO Frank Corcoran
( for the N.S.O.I Premiere of this new work on March 8. 2005 )
If Orpheus had had three saxophones to hand, he, too, would have availed of their power- to mourn. Or an accordeon.
Still, it’s important to get rid of bleating, the whine the old cow died on.
Music can lament ( -though it should get rid of the merely private, merely biographical ) ;
it can bewail not so much any “Dies Irae” as the very passing of that time which our temporal art is made of.
Even without double reeds in a particular register, the composer’s plangency begins its unsettling task.
eg. In Vasari’s Corridor of the Florentine Uffizi is a fine Roman copy of the original Greek sculpture, “Marsyas Being Flayed Alive “; the string-player, God Apollo,takes his slow, awful revenge on Marsyas, an innocent oboist. Marsyas’s massive, bound torso is bursting with pain.
My short one-movement work,my musical sculpture, screams and moans. Its seven winds easily overpower anything the string-quartet may whimper or moan.
Percussion and piano add yet a third layer of violence. The accordeon at the close then whimpers its rising ” KYRIE ” from theGregorian Requiem Mass, its only five notes ( Doh, Re, Mi, Fa, Mi ) , the most fundamental of all the archetypes of Western music.