Péter Eötvös As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams (CD+DVD Audio)
One thousand years ago a woman in Japan wrote a book, which survived the centuries and it is now one of the early Japanese classics. The book is usually known as Sarashina Nikki. Lady Sarashina herself never gave the book any such title. (...) Nikki is usually translated ‘diary’. But this book will show that it is no daily record of events but a book in which the material has been deliberately selected and shaped to reveal certain significant aspects of a woman’s life.
Elizabeth Laurence - recitation (Lady Sarashina)
Mike Svoboda - alto trombone with double-bell (“Alter Ego”)
Gérard Buquet - contrabass trombone with double-bell and sousaphone (“Shadow of Alter Ego” and “Moon”)
Blythe Holcomb, Nadia Hardman, David Hill (“Dream-voices”)
UMZE Chamber Ensemble, artistic director: Zoltán Rácz
Conductor: Gergely Vajda
Bösendorfer computer-piano programming by Vykintas Baltakas
Recorded by Rainer Lorenz, Karlsruhe
Piroska Molnár - voice (DCD Audio #8)
About the album
As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams (1999)
Sound theatre (in English)
Scenes from 11th-century Japan
Text from diary of Lady Sarashina (born in 1008, Japan)
English translation: Ivan Morris, Penguin Classics Ed. 1975
Libretto: Mari Mezei
Recording and mixing supervised by Péter Eötvös
Recorded by Péter Dorozsmai and László Reményi at Tom-Tom Studio, Budapest, 2001-2008
Realized by Péter Eötvös and Werner Scholz at Electronic Music Studio, WDR Cologne (1968)
Mixed and mastered by Péter Dorozsmai
DVD authoring: József Farkas
Music publisher: Edition Ricordi Munich (As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams), Edition Feedback Cologne (Tale)
Portrait photo: Péter Korniss
Cover Art-Smart by GABMER
Produced by László Gőz
Executive producers: György Wallner, Tamás Bognár
The recording was sponsored by the National Cultural Fund of Hungary
Stephen Eddins - AllMusic ***** (en)
Grant Chu Covell - La Folia (en)
Laurent Bergnach - Anaclase (fr)
Paul Hübner - klassik.com (de)
Paco Yáñez - Mundoclassico.com (es)
Francisco Ramos - Scherzo (es)
David Rodríguez Cerdán - Diverdi (es)
Gianluigi Mattietti - Musica ***** (it)
Szántó András - Gramofon ***** (hu)
Csont András - Revizor (hu)
Danczi Csaba László - prae.hu (hu)
Galamb Zoltán - Ekultura.hu (hu)
Péter Eötvös: As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams (1999) Sound theatre (Audio CD)
Bonus audio-only DVD, DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 formats
The album is available in digital form at our retail partners
Diary of Lady Sarashina
One thousand years ago a woman in Japan wrote a book, which survived the centuries and it is now one of the early Japanese classics.
The book is usually known as Sarashina Nikki. Lady Sarashina herself never gave the book any such title. Like most literary works of the period, it was named by subsequent copyists. Sarashina is in fact a mountainous district in central Japan. It is not mentioned a single time in the book, but there is an indirect allusion to the place in one of the author’s last poems. Nikki is usually translated ‘diary’. But this book will show that it is no daily record of events but a book in which the material has been deliberately selected and shaped to reveal certain significant aspects of a woman’s life.
The author belonged to the extraordinary group of literary women, they were educated and their social position was favourable. In their notes and letters and recollections they describe each nuance of feeling, each intimate hope, each secret disappointment. Her unhappiness was not the stylish melancholy affected by many of her courtly contemporaries, but sprang from some deep well in her own timid, hypersensitive nature. At the age of thirty-one she left to become a lady-in-waiting to one of the Imperial Princesses. From the outset it was obvious that she had started far too late to make a success at Court, and she was never called to serve in the Imperial Palace itself. She was eventually married at about thirty-six, which for a woman was almost old age. Her husband was a typical member of the middle class.
During the years following her marriage Lady Sarashina’s main interest in life appears to have been pilgrimages. Her book is one of the first extant examples of the typically Japanese genre of travel writing, with anecdotes, reflections and lyrical poems. Her interest in this world was limited to what impinged directly on her own emotional and aesthetic concerns.
When Lady Sarashina was forty-nine, her husband received a new appointment, and after the usual elaborate preparations he set out for the East. After only half a year he returned, presumably because of illness, and some months later she ‘lost him like a dream’. Perhaps, like so many women, she preferred the idea of a husband to the concrete husband himself.
Lady Sarashina was naive, timorous, introspective, solitary. Though kind and affectionate by nature, she had difficulty in asserting her emotions, and until the end one senses something ineffectual and irresolute about her, not only in personal relations but in her entire approach to the outside world. She protected herself by a barrier of fantasy; the final escape was in the world of dreams. Dreams are important in Buddhist imagery as a metaphor for the illusory nature of human experience.
Lady Sarashina’s book is the earliest in which dreams are central. Lady Sarashina evidently attached great importance to these dreams and remembered some of them in detail years after they took place. Towards the end of her life, she recognized the prophetic nature of the earlier dreams and blamed much of her unhappiness on having failed to do as she was told.
We know nothing about her end, maybe her final months were spent alone in the safety of some peaceful hillside temple.
(Text based on the introduction by Ivan Morris to his translation of the book)
“To display silence to the eye, to make the invisible speak to the ear.”
Music from words – words on music
As a young man I worked as a composer in several Budapest theatres, with marvellous actors. The way that, repeating it over in rehearsal, they formed the rhythm of the text, the “melody” of the spoken text, to me sounded like music. Their voices spoke like instruments. The spoken text had all the prerequisites of music: it had melody, rhythm, tempo, tone colour, character. It was in this vein that I composed my 1968 work Tale, which can now be heard for the first time in its original three-channel version.
Thirty years later I returned to my abiding dream: after the premiere in 1998 of my first opera Three Sisters, in which every character sang, I began to compose a “speech opera”. Thus came into being in 1998–99 As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams, which I termed “sound theatre”. Although the four actors, two instrumental soloists and the orchestra all play on the stage, it is the sound which creates the spectacle in the audience’s imagination. At the moments of remembrance three clarinets sound from three points in the space, as if to enclose the listener in a sweeping circle.
This spatial effect can be clearly heard in the 5.1 version. Since not everybody has at their disposal such audio technology, we also made a stereo version of the recording of As I Crossed. The recording, montage and mixing of sound took years, because we put each sound image together from numerous independent small units. In 1999, at the premiere in Donaueschingen, in a live performance, the work was played in a continuous sequence. On this recording we have created separate sound spaces for the stereo and the 5.1 version. Because the sound space of the 5.1 version is broader, the recording is a little longer than the stereo version. It is a little like viewing a panorama from a hilltop: we need more time than when looking at the countryside from inside a car.
In my view, everything that can be heard belongs to the world of music: the sound of speech and instruments, all the noise and din that surrounds us. The composer’s job is to mould this into a form, to hone it, to convey “meaning” to the listener.
The sound world of dreams is perhaps the most fertile area for the expression of this, because in dreams we see things, and hear sounds, which are “not there”, which are produced by our imagination.
In dreams sounds are up close to us, right inside our ears. I can create this sound in any space, if I place the microphones close up to the instruments, or the actor’s mouth. Of especial significance is quiet speech, whispering, because it is mysterious and dreamlike.
An opera singer creates song and the text that goes with it simultaneously. In this piece, I have separated the two: the actress always recites in prose, then when she reaches a poem and becomes “song”, she continues to recite the text and an alto trombone plays the “melody” for it.
The reciting voice portrays the poet Sarashina. Lady Sarashina, this modest, dreaming, extremely cultured modern woman, was born exactly one thousand years ago, and as a lady-in-waiting of the Japanese emperor her job was to chat in the antechamber with diplomats.
She spoke to the diplomats in verse, and they, in accordance with the custom of the time, had to respond in verse. I find Sarashina modern because the themes of her diary texts, her comments on events, her perceptive observations, her lack of a relationship, despite her work, all depict the portrait of a woman whose every word, whose world of feeling, we still understand today, even when she takes refuge from ordinary reality in dreams and fantasy stories.
This “speech opera” is a world of shadows and echoes. Two instruments are related to Sarashina: an alto trombone, as Sarashina’s “alter ego”, which carries the melody, the “emotions”, and a contrabass trombone, which as a shadow of the alto trombone leads the story into the depths, into space, into the past. The wind instrument heard in the third scene, the sousaphone, embodies the Moon, to whom Sarashina speaks. The Moon, panting wearily, ascends the hill and slowly wanders from east to west.
In Japanese culture great stock is set by nature, the seasons, the phases of the day, the wind, the rain, and the rustling of bamboo leaves. I paid great heed to this in the sound backdrop and the choice of tempo for each movement.
The three “dream-sounds” sometimes embody concrete personages (the mother, the sister, the priest, the “gentleman”) but are mostly fantasy figures (for instance, the governor’s daughter reincarnated in the form of a cat), and we hear the sound of Sarashina’s thoughts from every side at once. A special role is played here by Time. Since thoughts appear earlier than they are spoken, and after the spoken word they resound in the consciousness, we constantly hear three time-planes: an “ante-sound”, the present time, and reverberation.
I had already used a similar compositional technique in 1968 in Tale. Formally speaking, this “hyper-tale” concentration of 100 Hungarian folk tales follows the general dramaturgy of folk tales. The typical beginnings of tales, then the naming of characters and locations, the development and resolution of conflict, all appear condensed into twelve-and-a-half minutes in the Tale. Although we hear three different pitches from three different points in space, every sound, every rustle, comes from one narrator. The same story is told simultaneously: in the original tempo, accelerated and slowed down too. This way I realize the same construction of time as in the case of the “ante-echo”, the present and the remembered reverberation.
Tale was originally written for three-channel audio technology. At the Darmstadt premiere in 1968 the three time-planes were played in front of the audience, to the right and left, and behind them at the centre. On this recording, 5.1 technology enables us to recreate the original sound images 40 years later.
Naturally, not everyone understands the Hungarian text of the Tale. In my view, it is not necessary, because here words become music.
Translated by Richard Robinson
Péter Eötvös, born in Transylvania, is internationally renowned for his unique musical voice. His compositions feature prominently in concert programmes worldwide; and each of his five operas to date, Three Sisters, Le Balcon, Angels in America, Lady Sarashina and Love and Other Demons has generated new and vital productions in houses across Europe.
His conducting activities are characterized especially by long-term relationships with a number of key orchestras and institutions: the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and Ensemble Intercontemporain.
Péter Eötvös is generally regarded as one of the leading interpreters of contemporary music. He performed regularly with the Stockhausen Ensemble between 1968 and 1976 and collaborated with the electronic music studio of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne from 1971 to 1979. In 1978, at the invitation of Pierre Boulez, he conducted the inaugural concert of IRCAM in Paris, and was subsequently named Musical Director of the Ensemble InterContemporain, a post he held until 1991.
In 1991 he founded the International Eötvös Institute and Foundation for young conductors and composers.
Péter Eötvös’s works have been released by BMC, BIS AG, DGG, ECM, KAIROS, col legno and his music is published by Editio Musica (Budapest), Ricordi (Munich), Salabert (Paris), and Schott Music (Mainz).
Selected orchestral pieces: Atlantis, CAP-KO, Jet Stream, Seven, Psychokosmos, zeroPoints
Selected ensemble pieces: Chinese Opera, Shadows, Steine, Wind-sequenzen, Intervalles-Interieurs, Sonata per sei, Octet
UMZE Chamber Ensemble
The UMZE (acronym for New Hungarian Music Society) Chamber Ensemble gave its debut concert in 1997 at the Budapest Autumn Festival.
The founders of the new UMZE were the great names in Hungarian music life, such as György Ligeti, György Kurtág, András Szőllősy, Péter Eötvös, László Vidovszky, Zoltán Jeney, Ferenc Rados, László Dobszay, Miklós Perényi, and András Wilheim. The chairman of the society is László Vidovszky, the artistic director Zoltán Rácz, and the chief honorary conductor Péter Eötvös.
The link between the New Hungarian Music Society founded in 1911 by Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály, and Leó Weiner and today’s UMZE is clear: the primary aim of the successor is to guarantee a permanent place for the classics of the 20th century in the repertoire, while also introducing the public to new works by Hungarian and foreign composers.
The new UMZE Chamber Ensemble has over the last ten years become an important part of Hungarian music life. It is present at the most prestigious Hungarian music events, the Budapest Autumn and Spring Festivals, and has given concerts in Berlin, Karlsruhe, Avignon and Zagreb. It has participated in the Vienna Festspiele, nor has it been absent from the most important musical forums such as the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, or the Schleswig-Holstein Musikfestival.
Special music events have been the concerts in hommage to Steve Reich, Louis Andriessen, Elliott Carter and Olivier Messiaen, and the Hommage à Ligeticoncerts, where the great Hungarian composer’s entire oeuvre can be heard.
The UMZE Chamber Ensemble has to date released four discs, three of these on the BMC label.
Cantatrice and singing teacher, Elizabeth Laurence was born in Yorkshire, England. She qualified as a Teacher of Music in the celebrated Trinity College of Music in London. She taught music for seven years in London, then, selected by John Alldis she became a soloist in the “Groupe Vocal de France”.
Following this she sang for more than ten years as principal soloist for Pierre Boulez, and has been acclaimed as a specialist in contemporary music, especially of the Viennese School. She has sung in numerous opera houses and concert halls, especially in contemporary operas. She performed under the batons of many excellent conductors, including Pierre Boulez, Luciano Berio, Daniel Baremboďm, Nello Santi, Michelangelo Veltri, Heinz Holliger, Sir Charles Groves, Péter Eötvös, Donald Runnicles and Kent Nagano.
She has been invited to perform with orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, London Philharmonic, Klangforum Wien, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. In England, she has participated in concerts at the PROMS and the London South Bank, as well as the Glyndebourne Opera Festival.
Through her international career, Ms. Laurence has not neglected her teaching vocation: she has been teaching for more than ten years, and in 1999 gave a Master Class in the Conservatoire National Supérieur (Paris), and has also given Master Classes in Italy, England and Austria.
The trombonist and composer Mike Svoboda grew up in Chicago and went to Germany with a bursary in 1982. His eleven years as trombonist and assistant with Karlheinz Stockhausen during the 80s and 90s proved to be decisive for Svoboda’s musical development. As well as Stockhausen, he has collaborated with composers such as Peter Eötvös, Helmut Lachenmann, Wolfgang Rihm, Martin Smolka, David Lang, and Frank Zappa. He has premiered over 400 works for trombone at major festivals throughout the world.
Mike Svoboda returned to composition after his work with Stockhausen and regularly composes to commissions from music festivals, opera houses and theatres, such as the ECLAT festival Stuttgart, the Hannover and Stuttgart Operas, and the National Theater in Mannheim.
With his own Mike Svoboda Ensemble, he regularly performs his own work, which often crosses the borders between popular and classical music, high culture and entertainment, combining – through the use of text and various musical styles – both traditional and avant-garde. Numerous CDs, mainly for the WERGO label, document Svoboda’s art both as an interpreter and composer.
In 2008 he was awarded the Praetorius-Prize for Innovation in Music from the German government, in the words of the jury, for the “influence and recognition his concepts and ideas have had on the development of music and its performance”.
Tubist and composer Gérard Buquet was born in France. He studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris, then at Strasbourg University, where his teachers were Claude Ballif and Franco Donatoni.
He has appeared regularly as a soloist at leading festivals for contemporary music throughout the world. He has frequently played with the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and various jazz groups.
From 1976 to 2001 he was the tuba player of the Ensemble Intercontemporain. During this time he worked on several research projects at the IRCAM Centre, where he wrote a book on contemporary tuba techniques.
He taught chamber music at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris from 1997 to 1999, then in 2000 he became professor at the Musikhochschule in Karlsruhe, Germany. Since 2003 he has also been teaching contemporary music at the CEFEDEM in Dijon.
Alongside his work as an instrumentalist he regularly composes and conducts. In recent years he has given many concerts as the director and conductor of the Karlsruhe Ensemble für Neue Musik.
In winter 2008 Klangforum and la Scola Cantorum of Heidelberg premiered one of his works, and he has recently been comissioned by IRCAM to work on a composition for saxophone and electronics which will receive its first performance in IRCAM (Paris) in 2009.
Piroska Molnár is one of the outstanding personalities of the Hungarian stage, and is currently a member of the National Theatre.
Her versatile talent has found expression in every theatrical genre, and she plays in dramas, comedies, operettas, and musicals. She regularly works with Hungarian poets and composers, and is a familiar and characteristic voice in Hungarian poetry recital and storytelling. She has countless successful film roles behind her, and has been awarded the highest decorations in Hungary for her art.
Recently, at the request of György Kurtág and the UMZE Chamber Ensemble she has taken the role of narrator in György Kurtág’s piece Samuel Beckett: what is the word, a performance which earned her great critical acclaim.