sonic eclipse

With sonic eclipse Matthias Pintscher has composed a three-part cycle for ensemble. The first two parts, celestial object I and II, were premiered by the Scharoun Ensemble in Berlin and Zermatt at the Berliner Philharmoniker’s summer academy, and the third, occultation, have been premiered by Klangforum Wien on its 25th anniversary in 2010 in Witten.

The phenomenon of the eclipse – the passing of one celestial body over another and the resultant blackout at the moment of total eclipse – is a symbol of a compositional process of convergence and finally the momentary fusion of completely diverse elements. “The musical idea is that in the first piece, the trumpet, and in the second, the horn, take over a solo function. The contours of the two pieces are quasi laid one over another in the third part, though the material of both the pieces is entirely heterogeneous and at the moment of coming together, fuses together. I was interested in investigating the repertoire for two very different instruments which belong to one family, and in allowing both instruments to sound very differently. This entirely heterogeneous repertoire of sounds and shapes is slowly brought together and layered, and finally the ensemble is also drawn in, so that everything merges into one voice, one instrument and sound gesture, then subsequently also falls apart. Figuratively, this corresponds exactly to an eclipse.”

Pintscher attributes his interest in the cyclical, that is in compositions in several parts with related subjects, to a need to continually keep moving forwards: “I would like to carry on composing works which I have just completed. It is about searching for a completely new task and yet moving organically from one state to the next.”

occultation is the title of the third part of sonic eclipse. What is meant is the moment of blackout when the celestial bodies cross over each other in a solar eclipse. In occultation, the musical material from the first two parts of the cycle is, as Pintscher describes, “compressed and laid over each other”. As in a stretto, the two repertoires are combined, merged, exchanged. They are so close to each other, that they overlap almost identically.” In celestial object I and II it is the solo horn and trumpet parts which are treated differently: the trumpet is “lighter, more flowing, more giocoso con brio, with florescences, festoons.” The horn in celestial object II, in contrast, plays in long, melodious lines. The repertoire of techniques used ranges from the smallest dynamics, through various performing techniques such as flutter tonguing, stopped, toneless blowing, to large expressive arches. In contrast, the trumpet plays experimentally, virtuoso-like. And it is these two opposites which are brought together in occultation. The characteristic contours are combined with each other, so that “finally the horn has a virtuoso gesture, and the trumpet a linear one. The ensemble is involved in this process of merging to a point of culmination where the whole ensemble breaks up.” Despite a great variety of colour, sonic eclipse is not about a tonal delimitation, as in the treatment of the string instruments in the cycle Studies for Treatise on the Veil to the boundaries of dissolving, but about haptic, tangible outlines. With this, Pintscher sees in his own compositional development a step towards the directness of the expression of his music, which no longer relates to the pictorial quality of painting or literature. And a breaking away from the filigree and descreet characteristic style occurs, from the principle of veiling, which was still included programmatically in the title of Studies for Treatise on the Veil.
Marie Luise Maintz
(from: [t]akte 1/2009 and 1/2010)