ln croce,for bayan and cello
Silenzio, for bayan, violin and cello
Sieben Worte (Seven Words), for cello, bayan and strings
The composer Sofia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol' inthe Tatar Soviet Republic in 1931 and studied the pianoat the Music Academy in Kazanafter the war. ln 1949 she entered the Kazan Conservatory where she studiedcomposition with Leman and subsequently with Nikolay Peyko, a pupil of Myaskovskyand Rakov. She continued her studies with Vissarion Shebalin, another pupil of Myaskovsky.
She had encouragement from Dmitry Shostakovich, who advised her to ignorehostile criticism from the officiaI musical establishment, and earned a livingin Russia principally by writing filmmusic, while her other music was more widely heard abroad. With political changes in the SovietUnion she was able to travel outside the country, and since 1992 has lived in asmall town near Hamburg.
In croce, for cello and bayan, the Russian push-button accordion,was written in 1979 for the Russian cellist Vladimir Toncha. First composed forcello and organ, the work was performed by Toncha and the organist Oleg Yanchenkoin the concert hall of Moscow Conservatory .With the accordionist Elsbeth MoserGubaidulina made an alternative arrangement for cello and bayan in 1992. Thetitle In croce is taken not only frorn the basic nature of the work butalso refers to its structure. While the instruments at the beginning playeither in a high register (bayan) or in low register (cello), in the course ofthe composition they come closer to each other and cross. When the two melodiclines cross, this forms the climax, an explosion of energy. The characteristictonal and instrumental symbolism depends also on the functional use of the twoinstruments. Although both have a common starting-point in the pedal E, theytreat this in different ways. One may compare only the struggles of the cellowith shrill accents, chromaticism and micro-intervals to free itself from thepedal-point with the shimmering figuration of the pedal-point in the bayanpart, where A major appears as a broken triad and also in the form of adiatonic scale. Here there is also thesis and antithesis at the same time, aunion of opposites. Profounder symbolism appears in the coda, when bothinstruments after the stormy and passionate climax come together again, thecello with its quasi-human voice making its own the ethereally illuminatedfiguration over the pedal-point E that was heard at the beginning from thebayan. They free themselves finally in the irridescent sound of the overtoneseries on the A string. In croce is a true meditation on the meaning ofCross.
Silenzio, a set of five pieces for bayan, violin and cello, isdedicated to Elsbeth Moser, whose personality served as inspiration for thework. She gave the first performance in Hanover in 1991 with the violinist KathrinRabus and cellist Christoph Marks. The greater part of the work, the composerexplains, is to be played pianissimo. She did not have the intention ofexpressing silence or creating such an impression. Silence is for her the foundation from which somethinggrows. Exact rhythmic proportions are made which appear in all five miniaturesin different ways, at times hidden, at times in the form of proportions of notelength. In the last miniature the hidden and the open are brought together in asynthesis: in the course of the whole movement we hear significantly formulatedrhythmic sequences in the bayan part (quasi variations on a rhythm). It is thesame rhythm that can also be heard in the relationship to each other of theformal sections, 7- 2- 5.
Sieben Worte (Seven Words), for cello, bayan and strings, was writtenin 1982 and first performed in Moscow in the same year, with the cellistVladimir Toncha and accordion-player Friedrich Lips, to whom the work isdedicated. The composer acknowledges her debt to long-standing culturaltradition, to which Heinrich Sch??tz contributed in his Die sieben Worte unsereslieben Erlb'sers und Seeligmachers Jesu Christi so er am Stamm des heiligen Creutzesgesprochen (The Seven Last Words of Our Redeemer and Saviour Jesus Christspoken on the Holy Cross) and to which Haydn also added. The Christian basis ofthe work was concealed at the first Moscow performance but is clear enough, even without the present title andthe composer's own explanation. Sofia Gubaidulina explains that naturally nopurely instrumental work can express the biblical text. Here there are rather,in purely instrumental sounds, metaphorical gestures and in this respect thetwo solo instruments, bayan and cello, and the string orchestra provided amplematerial: l am thinking, for example, of the long-drawn sounds of the ce//o,crossed through glissandi of the neighbouring strings. In the bayan this crossingwith the orchestra takes place with the help of pressure on neighbouring keys.
In the string orchestra there is the possibility of glissando crossingsfrom unison to multi-octave textures and again back to unison (the .figure ofthe Cross). When the cello bow goes behind the bridge, this is, as itwere, the entry to another world. These instrumental metaphors form thethematic foundation of the work, which unfolds in the course of six movementswith the continual increase in tension. At the end of the sixth movement (It
is accomplished) the tension is broken: the bow plays on the bridge,and in the seventh movement the bow crosses the bridge and the limits of theinstrument. This basic thematic material for the solo instruments is in contrast to themusic for the string orchestra, which in character is reminiscent of choralwriting. To these two thematic schemes is added the threefold repetition of afive-bar quotation from the work of Heinrich Sch??tz, the melody of the cry"I thirst". This figure has an essential structural function.