“ΚΥΚΛΟΣ” (“Kýklos”) for Orchestra (2011)

My composition “KYKLOS” is a kind of “secret” setting of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. The poetic word is not recited but rather forms the basis of the piece’s architectural structure and musical gestures. The primary voice of the first section (first poem) is heard on the vibraphone and begins a mensural canon: 1:2 (bass clarinet) and 1:4 (harp). The bass clarinet voice mutates (horns and xylophone) and concludes at the end of the second section (second and third poems). The harp voice undergoes a number of structural changes (interruptions, extensions, compressions) and concludes at the end of the third section (fourth poem). A coda corresponding to the fifth poem (the last poem of the collection Sonnets to Orpheus) concludes the piece.

The title refers to a number of different elements of the piece:

  1. mensural canon as a symbol of concentric circles
  2. circle as a graphic element, resulting from the absolutely symmetrical string lines of the first section
  3. circle as a sound object (woodwinds before the first fermata)
  4. circle as in the altered return of the beginning material at the end of the piece
  5. circle as a symbol for the completion of a process, but also an infinite movement, the end of which always meaning a new beginning
  6. circle (cycle, “Kreis”) as complex of the five set poems (a kind of “song cycle”).

 

Each of the five Rilke poems on which the composition is based address the artistic experience in different manner. The first poem, which is taken from The Book of the Monk’s Life, deals with a Russian painter’s quasi-ecstatic creative moment.

A musical scream signals the beginning of the second section of the composition, which “sets” the second and third poems, both of which addressing the Orpheus figure. The second poem describes the “magical” moment of the orphic song. The song that forges ‘animals of silence,’ which – with an almost human consciousness – receive from Orpheus a ‘temple in their hearing.’ The third poem deals with Orpheus’ tragic death; fallen prey to the fury of the ‘spurned’ maenads. Rilke focuses on a further “magical” element here: the dissection and division of the body is requisite for the dissemination of the orphic song (spirit).

The fourth poem connects poetry with the breathe in a tone exuding an almost Buddhist universality. It is conceivable that one could perceive the breathe as a kind of unio mystica between the subject and the universe. In terms of transference, the poetic (or artistic) experience connects the self with the world: “[…] in a poem where I succeed, there is more reality than in any relationship or affection that I feel; where I create, I am true […]” (R. M. Rilke).

The last poem, corresponding to the coda (a distant string trio within a “forest” of pizzicato harmonics), deals with the ‘metamorphosis.’ The poet calls on the ‘silent friend of many distances:’ “Be in this immeasurable night of excess/ magic power at the crossroads of your senses/ of their strange encounter sense.”

“KYKLOS” was commissioned by the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra and is dedicated to its former principal conductor Myron Michailidis.

Kyklos Ausschnitt
Commission Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra
Dauer approx. 11 Min.
Instrumentation 3 Flutes (3rd doubling Piccolo), 3 Oboes (3rd doubling English Horn), 3 Clarinets in B flat (3rd doubling Bass Clarinet in B flat), 3 Bassoons (3rd doubling Contrabassoon), 4 Horns in F, 1 Trumpet in C, 3 Trombones, 1 Tuba, 3 Percussionists, 2 Timpanists (5 Timpani), Harp, Celesta, Strings (12 first Violins, 10 second Violins, 8 Violas, 6 Cellos, 4 Double Basses with low C string
Dedication Myron Michailidis

Performances

  • 27.05.2011 (Premiere), Thessaloniki Concert Hall;
Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra, Conductor: Miltos Logiadis