László Tihanyi, Gábor Csalog, György Déri, Csaba Klenyán, UMZE Chamber Ensemble László Tihanyi: Shadowplay (Schattenspiel)

BMCCD027 1999

One of the characters of Suarez's film entitled Don Juan in Hell is a mysterious man accompanied by a silent figure clothed in black, its face painted black and gold, who imitates his every gesture. When asked about his companion, the man always replies: he is with me always, he is my shadow. It is he who utters these words at one of the dramatic turning points of the film: "He who is left alone with his shadow must either change, or die."

I recommend these two compositions primarily to those for who are familiar with the dark side of life and the human soul, and who have experienced during their earthly existence, like Don Juan in the film, the descent into Hell.

Lászó Tihanyi


Artists

Gábor Csalog - piano (1-10)
György Déri - violoncello (1-14)
Csaba Klenyán - clarinet (1-14)

UMZE Chamber Ensemble: (11-14)
Zoltán Gyöngyössy - flute
Márta Malomvölgyi - oboe
György Lakatos - bassoon
Péter Soós - horn
László Simai - trumpet
Péter Burget - trombone
Tibor Takács - tuba
Andrea Vígh - harp
Erika Tóth - electric piano
Zoltán Rácz - percussion
Aurél Holló - percussion
Anna Mérey - violin
Orsolya Winkler - violin
Márta Benkő - viola
Alajos Horváth - double bass

conducted by László Tihanyi


About the album

Recorded at the Phoenix Studio, Hungary
Recording producer: Ibolya Tóth
Balance engineer: János Bohus
Digital editing: Veronika Vincze, Mária Falvay
Music published by Editio Musica Budapest

Cover photo: Gábor bakos
Potrait photo: János Vas
Design: ArtHiTech

Produced by László Gőz


Reviews

Fittler Katalin - Gramofon ***** (hu)

Porrectus - Muzsika (hu)

Sipos Róbert - Kultifilter (hu)


11 EUR 3500 HUF

László Tihanyi: Shadowplay

01 Prelude (Shadowplay 1 - for György Kurtág) 3:11
02 Movement 5:13
03 Clarinet Cadenza (Shadow-less 1) 5:05
04 Commentary on the Movement (The dried-up lake of tears) 5:44
05 Interlude (Shadowplay 2 - for György Kurtág) 2:30
06 Piano Cadenza (Shadow-less 2 - In memoriam Tomasz Sikorski) 3:51
07 Countermovement 5:29
08 Violoncello Cadenza (Shadow-less 3) 5:36
09 Commentary on the Countermovement (The frozen lake of tears) 8:47
10 Postlude (Shadowplay 3 - for György Kurtág) 2:37

László Tihanyi: Atte

11 Prelude and Movement 7:11
12 Commentary on the Movement (The dried-up lake of tears) 6:09
13 Countermovement 5:34
14 Commentary on the Countermovement (The frozen lake of tears) 7:31
Total time 74:28

Shadowplay (Schattenspiel) is the product of thoughts that have been forming in me for a long time. For some time now medieval pieces, above all Dufay’s motets and masses, created with what is known as the “izorhythmical” technique, have become increasingly important to me. I was curious to see whether it was possible to write authentic music using this medieval compositional procedure in contemporary language. From the beginning, composers have shown great interest in the musical realization of light-shadow phenomena. Every style has offered and continues to offer possibilities to achieve this. I wanted to find out whether it was possible to make use of the hidden potentialities of the light-shadow duality in a formal way, one which would determine, in addition to the acoustic representation, the structure of the entire piece.

During the spring of 1996, three soloists of the Forrás Chamber Music Workshop, Béla Simon (piano), Gergely Vajda (clarinet), and Tamás Varga (violoncello) asked me to write a trio for them, which they would perform together with Brahms’ Trio for Clarinet at the Viennese Musikverein in May of the following year. As the piece gradually began to take shape, I happened to catch a film of Suarez’s entitled Don Juan in Hell on TV one night. One of the characters of the considerably modernized tale was a mysterious man accompanied by a silent figure clothed in black, its face painted black and gold, who imitated his every gesture. When asked about his companion, the man always replies: he is with me always, he is my shadow. It is he who utters these words at one of the dramatic turning points of the film: “He who is left alone with his shadow must either change, or die.”

This scene and this sentence gave a decisive impetus towards the formation of Schattenspiel.

At the same time it determined in a fundamental way the emotional-atmospherical tone of the piece, since the situation in the film showed many similarities with my situation at the time, and I thought I should accept it, together with all the musical consequences this entailed. This was the point where the two commentaries – the shadows of the movements themselves – were fitted into the piece, up till then based on two pillars – movement and countermovement. These were the four movements which were performed at the premiere in Vienna, but by then I was already working on the interludes that divide the movements. Making use of all possible combinations of instruments, I composed three duos, following throughout the traditional play of light-shadow in the acoustic sense. This is how the three Schattenspiel (Shadowplay) came into being, which in the end became the title of the piece itself. This version – consisting of seven movements – was also performed, but by that time I had already completed the three solo movements, the Schattenlos (Shadow-less) by way of countermovements to the duos. It was at this point that – admitting to the hidden or audible references – the subtitles of the two commentaries, alluding to Schubert and Bartók, and the dedications of the duos and the solo piano movement, became final.

The ten movements thus evolved run as follows:

1. Prelude (Shadowplay 1 – for György Kurtág)
2. Movement
3. Clarinet Cadenza (Shadow-less 1)
4. Commentary on the Movement (The dried-up lake of tears)
5. Interlude (Shadowplay 2 – for György Kurtág)
6. Piano Cadenza (Shadow-less 2 – In memoriam Tomasz Sikorski)
7. Countermovement
8. Violoncello Cadenza (Shadow-less 3)
9. Commentary on the Countermovement (The frozen lake of tears)
10. Postlude (Shadowplay 3 – for György Kurtág)

All the movements of Schattenspiel were created following the color-talea principle applied in izorhythmic motets. As in the case of the form structure, when planning the scales and rhythmic sequences, I took a basically symmetrical formula as a starting-point. (This appears to be an esthetic-psychological principle of mine.) The color (the scale) consists of 48 notes, but it assumes three different forms in each of the three types of movement (solo, duo, trio). In the first, starting out from F sharp, the notes move apart in both directions, up scale and down, chromatically, in two parts, until the C octave is reached. This is effected with a successive increase of the number of intervals: one prime, two major seconds, three major thirds, four tritones, five minor sixths, six minor sevenths and finally seven octaves (practicably, prime again). In the second color, the notes progress from C octave to F sharp, the progression narrowing chromatically, but retaining the technique of increasing the number of intervals, thus the C sharp – B minor seventh which figured six times in the first color appears here only twice. Finally, in the third color, there is an even distribution of notes: all 12 notes appear four times. There is only one talea (rhythmic sequence), consisting of twelve values. The sequence is made up of 11-7-4-2-12-8-5-9-10-6-3-1 units, in the above order.The structure thus developed proved to be surprisingly flexible, and made possible a great many modes of application besides the traditional one. By this means the stylistic unity of this lengthy piece was ensured, together with the necessary, independent articulation of each movement.

Re-reading Schattenspiel, listening to the recordings of the performances I became increasingly convinced that the four trio movements could be arranged for orchestra, retaining the solo roles of the clarinet and the violoncello only. This time I set to work upon the request of the New Hungarian Music Association (UMZE), a recently formed group of excellent young musicians, preparing for a concert to be held in Berlin in October 1999. The title of the new piece – dropping the two consonants at the beginning and the end of the word Schatten – became Atte, the play on words alluding to the title of the trio. In Atte, the two soloists are encircled by a quartet consisting of an electric piano, a harp and two percussionists (in a sense the acoustic shadows of the soloists), who are in turn encircled, in an open trapezium form, by a trio of woodwinds, a quartet of brasses and a string quartet (with a contrabass instead of a violoncello): they are the shadows of the shadows. After reading through the piece once more, I felt it would be unfortunate to start the piece with the big tutti of the main movement, so I fitted in the first movement of Schattenspiel, the clarinet-violoncello duet, as a prelude. Basically, Atte follows the corresponding movements of Schattenspiel note by note, very few notational changes were necessary, and those were the consequence of the orchestral situation.

I recommend the two compositions on this CD primarily to those for whom the motto borrowed from the Suarez film has meaning, to those who are familiar with the dark side of life and the human soul, and who have experienced, in this world, during their earthly existence, like Don Juan in the film, the descent into Hell.

László Tihanyi

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