IN THE DEEP HEART´S CORE for Solo Harp ( Premiere: 5.09.2012 Dublin, Andreja Malir, Harp ) Frank Corcoran
For the non-player composer, to write for guitar or bass clarinet or double bass can be a nightmare. Or to compose for the harp.
I avoided composing a solo harp piece for years – it´s not just the problem wth the pedals, how
quickly can Andreja change the chromatic pool of available tones , nor is it the different registers… The harp is an orchestra , a wonderful collection of colour possibilities; but the real problem is moral. Why does so much harp music ( especially 19th. c. Romantic ) sound for me inauthentic , insincere, just too beautiful to be ” true” ? So much ( wonderful ) Sout American harp music as prostituting the over-the-top ripe sound-possibilities of this great chest of gut-strings and fancy finger-work ?
Maybe it´s the clicheès with the glissandi , the sheen and swoosh of harp literature written by harper – composers ? Some of it is certainly trying to work out how long a sounding pedal-tone should sound – just how long should it eg. be allowed to clog up all the other musical thoughts and happenings ? ( One of the great harp sounds for me is that deep chord played secco, dry, in Stravinsky´s miniature Tombeau for Harp, Flute and Clarinet for Duke Max Egon zu Fürstenberg in Donaueschingen ; it´s a dark sound, anti-beautiful, cut off, doesn´t clog, like the wooden clapper they used to have for the Catholic Good Friday liturgy years ago as I was a child in Tipperary )
I had written ” A DARK SONG” for solo Bass Clarinet early last year ( Premiere in November 2011 at the
R.I.A.M. / RTE ) before I turned my hand or my ear to a short solo for harp, IN THE DEEP HEART´S
It´s just one movement ( I suppose the Yeatsian title wants to emphasize both ” dark” and ” core” , ” heart”, too ). As in all my works, everything has to flow from the opening idea, that fortissimo low F Sharp string and the few tones that follow. That deep F Sharp fights against, defines, conflicts with just everything which follows. Low loud struggle eventually rises to more melodic scraps in the middle of this mini- essay on, I suppose, the entire kaleidoscope of harp-colours and – registers. ( ” I hear it , yes, in the deep heart´s core”… )