Mar’eh for violin and orchestra (2010/11)

“ ‘Mar’eh’ means face, sign. The Hebrew word can also mean the aura of a face, a beautiful vision, something wonderful which suddenly appears before you.” With Mar’eh Matthias Pintscher has composed a violin concerto which will be premiered at the Lucerne Festival with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski. “I came across this word when I thought of the fine lines which she can spin with her instrument, this very intensive, but light play.” The “wonderful appearance” is a metaphor for the sound aura of the whole concerto. A constant materialising of new sounds out of nothing, with the violin as protagonist. “I have tried to shape the whole in a very songlike fashion, so that the violin starts at the beginning and draws a line – or its vision – through to the end, in the most varied registers, often quite high, where it can only be continued in harmonics. I wanted this continual pacing out of a line. In the attempt to create horizontal arcs of sound, I was concerned with always giving the sound a direction in perspective.”

The spinning of threads reveals a further dimension. Pintscher heads the score with a reference from Luigi Nono as an instruction: “presenze – memorie – colori – respire”. And despite all its contemporaneity, this is also about remembering: in its appearance, the past resonates and breathes with it. The orchestra is part of the transparent sonority, it answers in the gesture which the violin evokes and realises its own form of Klangfarbenmelodie [tone colour melody]. “There are three flutes which have a prominent position through the specific prismatic performing techniques which I worked out in my flute concerto transir. They comment throughout on the violin part, constantly answering the violin in chamber music style. This then spreads further into the broken, spectral sonority of the orchestra. The texture is always light, never compact or violent, but transparent, answering in perspective the fine drawing of the violin in this sound space.” 

The continuous movement of c. 22 minutes’ duration incorporates concentrations and culmination points: it interprets Schönberg’s term of Klangfarbenmelodie [tone colour melody] as a continuum of sound: “My wish was to allow these many small particles to come together in the illusion of a large, light, transparent mass which permeates from the beginning to the end. It is about the fact that the sound has a direction, not in the melodic sense, but in that the sound always continues, is never interrupted. It is about the direction of sound in space and time.” Following on from the minutely detailed violin technique of his cycle Study for Treatise on the Veil, Mar’eh reveals an introverted virtuosity: “The piece is high, fast, filigree, but it is not about an extrovert or exalted virtuosity, but about introspection, which can perhaps be called ‘concentric virtuosity’”.              

Marie Luise Maintz
(Translation: Elizabeth Robinson)
from [t]akte 1/2011