QUASI UN LAMENTO by Frank Corcoran ( March 8, 2005, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland premiere. National Concert Hall.
If Orpheus had had three saxophones , he, too, would have availed of their power to bleat, to mourn. Or an accordeon…. still, it´s important to get rid of the mere bleat, the tune the ould cor died on. Certainly. Music can lament. But we get rid of the merely autobiographical. Better. Much. Bewail not so much “Dies Irae ” as the passing of that very time of which music is, cough, made. What has this to do with the Agnus dei of the “MASS OF TOURNAI” ? – I´m sure I don´t know. I´m not sure. In the Vasari Corridor of the Uffizzi in Florence is a fine Roman copy of the original Greek ( – what did that copyist think ? The original greek sculptor ? The flayer ? ) “Marsyas Being Flayed Alive” where divine-great, yet mean bastardo string-player Apollo takes his AWFUL revenge on Marsyas, innocent oboist . Marsyas´s bound torso is bursting with pain, with suffering, with mourning. My one-movement QUASI UN LAMENTO also. Its orchestra screams, moans; the seven wind easily overpower a puny string-quartet ; percussion and piano add violence, savagery. The accordeon at the close whimpers a rising ” Kyrie ” from “MY” Requiem Mass, those five notes ( Doh, Re, Mi, Fa, Mi ) which created Western music.
The Boston Phoenix . Nov. 11 – 17 , 2005.
“Stranger In Paradise” by Lloyd Schwarz : MUSICA VIVA .
” The hit of Boston Musica Viva´s “Boston Celtics” …. In “Mad Sweeney” which was getting its American premiere, Irish composer Frank Corcoran´s wild-man recitation from Heaney´s English rendering of the medieval irish tale about …. All the playing , under Richard Pittman, was spectacular. “
June 1. 2001 ” Komponistenportrait Frank Corcoran ” it was , I remember that warm South German headiness, at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Mannheim ( literally ” presentational art” , I suppose ) . Mannheim´s streets are geometrically gridded; odd, that. In dark and ferrety wine-houses lie – in wait, certainly- dark visages wishing to restore that fine Baden-Würtemmberg lineage, Gawd bless us. I remember that I spoke about my First Symphony, ” SYMPHONIES OF SYMPHONIES OF WIND”, which ( – I was the first ever Irish composer, yes, to have his First Symphony premiered in Vienna Of Dem Saints ) Lothar Zagrosek premiered with the O.R.F.Symphony Orchestra in Vienna, Mozartstadt, in now far-off and belting-receding 1981 .
N.D.R.3 Kultur broadcasts on Prisma – Musik Frank Corcoran´s
radiophonic “analysis” of Beethoven´s EROICA . Why revisit his 3. Symphony ? Why heroic ? Why heroic Beethoven ? What is heroic ? In music ? Who is the lucky hero ? Why ?
Also on NDR 3. Kultur that balmy Spring evening is Frank Corcoran´s FOUR ORCHESTRAL PRAYERS , his 4 Orchesterlieder ( to texts by Erigena, Henry Lyte, Anon – Corcoran, Meister Eckhart – a heady brew, si, – ) with the Irish national Symphony orchestra / Colman Pearce , Mezzosoprano: Chloe Hinton ( January 19 2010, National Concert Hall Dublin ).
NDR 3 KULTUR broadcast on January 16, as it happened, Frank Corcoran´s again radiophonic Hear-Analysis ( – no, it doesn´t quite work in English. No ) of Mozart´s C – Minor Piano Concerto K.V. 491.
This is almost 2 years after EUROPEAN CONNECTIONS IRELAND / SLOVENIA ( Dublin and Ljubjana ) . Concorde Ensemble for New Music performed ( in Dublin City Gallery : The Hugh Lane andat the UNICUM International Contemporary Music Festival , Slovenia the Concorde commission: Frank Corcoran ” The Light Gleams” for the Beckett Centenary Festival 2008 )
Yes, University College Dublin 150 Year Celebration…. Wow !
Yes, I did ” learn ” to write Bachian ( ? ) Fugue with Professor Anthony Hughes of University College Dublin , 1967 to 1969.
Has my ( recent ) composing of ” my ” ” QUASI UNA FUGA” for ( in its original 2007 version ) the 18 strings of the Irish Chamber Orchestra / Anthony Marwood Conductor – 2007 Shannon Festival, Limerick Cathedral and its 2010 revised version for Full Orchestra ( – Frank Corcoran ” Horizons” Concert of January 19 2010 with the National Irish Symphony Orchestra , Conductor: Colman Pearce come from that hate / love ? Has it ?
Again, what future works of mine have sprung from that legendary premiere of my ” MUSIC FOR THE BOOK OF KELLS ” for 5 Percussionists And An Irish Pianist with The University of Wisconsin / Milwaukee under the baton of Professor Pavel Burda, the first and best of all performances of this composition to date ?
Put it like that, an emerging composer´s “I” defining its “Ich” and its ” What´s My Worth, heavens!? ” eg.
David Robertson premiered my Concerto For String Orchestra back in 1983. Lloyd Schwartz then, in the Boston Phoenix ( ISSUE DATE November 11 – 17 , 2005 ) described : ” In Mad Sweeney, which was getting its American Premier, Irish composer Frank Corcoran´s wild-man recitation from Seamus heaney´s English rendering of the medieval Irish tale about the mad warrior king and knotty sound world reminded me of Peter Maxwell Davies´s 1969 Eight Songs fro a Mad King . ( This was One Song for a Mad King ) . All the playing , under Richard Pittman, was spectacular.
And in the Croatian VISKI BOJ ( The Battle of Vis ) / Summer in Vis , they premiered my Third String Quartet with : ” How to compose for this medium after Bethoven´s Opus 18 or his great final quartets ? After Brahms ? or debussy´s youthful master-piece ? Ligeti´s or Lutoslawsky´s originality ? Mine is a one-movement argument in motu perpetuo which spreads out from the initial idea for 4 strings. The strictly metred music acts as a foil for the non-synchronized passages…. The opening flourish comes again in a thousand variants. Every imaginable string-colour is painted , from the left-hand pizzicati to high harmonics. Of course this is an Irish quartet. I , its dreamer, am Irish. Whether i wish it or not, this musical vision must come out of the landscape of and the seas which surround my small West European island which , of course, shares important similarities with East European Croatia!”
Or take Lutz Lesle in the Zeitschrift für Neue Musik: ” Für die University of Wisconsin , die 1990 die alt-irische Handschrift BOOK OF KELLS erwarb. komponierte Frank Corcoran seine schlagzeugbunte ” MUSIC FOR THE BOOK OF KELLS”.
Yes, I did. Enjoy reading the 24. September 1999 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ” Dem kleinen König eine Messe – James Joyce läßt rufen: ein Abend mit Frank Corcoran”. Boys !
LA SCALA ( Symphonik : Hans-Dieter Grünefeld ) had already warbled: Enorme Spannungen bilden sich. Doch Corcoran bändigt diese als “Makrokontrapunkte”. in seinen Symphonien brodelt es , doch die Kompositionen zerstäuben sich nicht in Geräusche. Vielmehr messen sich Schlaginstrumente vieler Schlaginstrumente mit der Kraft von Bläserchorälen und dunklen Streicherphrasen in der 2. Symphonie . Eine archaische Welt…. ” Shortly after that , in the Veranstaltungen 2001 at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Mannhein ( – here we go again …. ) , in Professor Ulrich Leyendecker´s kingdom, Studio für neue Musik, my Komponistenporträt Frank Corcoran.
My THREE ORCHESTRAL PIECES are for middle-sized orchestra ( I insist on the sub-title: ” Pictures From My Exhibition” ) . Three expanding time-pictures, ca. 2´, 4´and nearly 6´. I was thirty. Imagine.They won the 1975 Dublin Symphony Orchestra Composer´s Competition. Imagine.
Five years later in Berlin, I had departed Dublin. SYMPHONIES OF SYMPHONIES OF WIND was premiered by Lothar Zagrosek and the O.R.F. Symphony Orchestra in Vienna. My twenty three wind only. This work is “about” much more than Stravinsky´s grave masterpiece ( At its 1918 London premiere this Russian Caoine was a flop ; salutary thought both that and the death of debussy ) . Wewll, about what , then ? My Symphony is ” about” great masses of sounding air, families of woodwind and brass shaping slow sound-sculptures and structures in its twenty four minutes. enfolding musical argument.
What then separates my QUASI UN LAMENTO from my SYMPHONIES. eh ? Twenty five years , three other symphonies, many compositional bits and electro-acoustic, choral also, pieces. I had completed my “MAD SWEENEY” or ” BUILE SHUIBHNE” series , a collection of heterogenous works all triggered off by my setting in 1996 Seamus heaney´s version ( in English ) of the Early Medieval Irish epic ” SUIBHNE GEALT” .
By 2005 I was facing the end of the next ” Quasi” series, several works of manifold shape and form. QUASI UN CAOINE / LAMENTO is a ten minutes essay for small orchestra including three saxophones and accordeon. Then I wrote QUASI UN CANTO for the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and the World Music Days in Croatia. The brush sweeps wider, the orchestral forces are much bigger.
Anyway there was the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik ( – don´t forget ” und Darstellende Kunst”, would you ? – I would. )
Erhard Karkoschka died recently. Then there was Helmut Lachenmann – what a wonderful name ! – , he was quite a different story.
And a different language, dialect, accent, musical accent, musical ascent towards “Negative Musik”, whatever that may mean to the eager music-journalists and musicological writers of ” foot-notes to Jomelli ” ( I owe this not quite flattering description of German musicology up to and including, of course, Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht …. , to my venerable Berlin teacher, Boris Blacher, himself no Swabian ! ) . Of all my synaesthetic impressions gathered in an eventful year too near to and yet too far from Tübingen´s noble Hölderlin ( – and yes, they did Frank Corcoran´s “MEDIEVAL IRISH EPIGRAMMES” for Choir at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart , also the PIANO TRIO and other works of that kidney ; yes, I did make several not unimportant Frank Corcoran Radiophonic Analyses for the Süddeutscher Rundfunk, including one of György Ligeti´s Choral Music, also os a Peter Ruzizka immortal work , and also – for the Hessischer Rundfunk – a splendidly big analysis, I remember, of Stravinsky´s “RITE OF SPRING” ) is this little vignette from my South Swabian village where I wintered in: I happened to be invited to a Schützenfest – all-male of course – at the local Sporthalle ( our wine-producers´ hamlet possessed neither pub nor café ) where , as the night wore on, the heroes´cup was passed around with increasing musical tempo. Polyphony and emotions rose higher . I spotted two of our drinking heroes in the act of slipping away to find a telephone. ” Got your driving-licence ready ? Or are you here on foot, I wonder? ” whispered my Bacchus to me. ” I´m on foot tonight, actually …. Why?” ” Oh, there´s never a denouncer far from such a Bibulosity Fest ours. You saw our two Judases sneaking out to inform by phone to the Stuttgart Gárdaí just now ? Just wait for the fun now !” And sure enough there was the cordon of spinning blue-lights from at least six police-cars blocking the road and a corresponding wild scramble on the part of my imbibers of fine Württemberg wine, quite hopelessly attempting to pass over their car-keys to Württemberg spouses . I will never forget this example of commendable Swabian village fellowship. Never.
On the theme of H.H. Eggebrecht, more anon.
January 16 2010 NDR Kultur broadcast of:
” Quasi Una Fuga” for Chamber Orchestra ( 2007 Shannon Festival RTÉ / Lyric Fm recording of the Irish Chamber Orchestra / Anthony Marwood world-premiere in Limerick Cathedral. The 2010 version ( January 19 2010 N.S.O. / Colman Pearce at the NCH , Dublin ) is a new revision for Full
Orchestra ( Strings ) .
Fart on early in uncommonly cold Janus-uary. Tuck in de frozen, not yet quite amputated toes. NDR KULTUR ( – is it dat ole NDR DREI ? ) on Jnuary 16 will broadcast my ” WHY Mozart´s K.V. 491 – was it = his amputated , icy toes , wha ? )