Orchestral and ensemble works 1979

Barcarola

For large Orchestra
Commissioned by the Tonhalle-Gesellschaft, Zürich

Year of composition 1979
Duration 20 minutes

In memoriam Paul Dessau

World premiere

World premiere 22. april 1980

Zürich · Tonhalle-Orchester

Conductor Gerd Albrecht

Comment

The form of this water music recalls that of the traditional single-movement overture, with its slow introduction and fast main section. The slow section presents two figures, one of which is a fanfare-like call, somewhat reminiscent of Monteverdi and, as such, a summons, a challenge, a signal to depart, an assembly call. At the end of the introduction, the barcarolle itself appears, played on a solo viola. On hearing this, we gain the impression that the preceeding funeral dirges, especially those on the strings, were merely preludes to this archetypal barcarolle. This is a point of departure for the fast section. Here I imagined someone crossing the Styx, a dying man who sees a number of decisive moments in his former life pass before his mind’s eye in rapid succession. To illustrate this idea, I cast this section in the form of a series of variations on the barcarolle theme, repeatedly interrupting them with Charon’s music for trumpets and trombones, while at the same time interweaving constantly changing variants of other motifs.

Hans Werner Henze

Instrumentation

3 Flauti1°, 2° anche Ottavini
3° anche Ottavino e Flauto contralto
3 Oboi2° anche Corno inglese
3° anche Corno inglese e Heckelphon
3 Clarinetti1° anche Clarinetto piccolo
2° anche Clarinetto piccolo e Clarinetto basso
3° anche Clarinetto piccolo e Clarinetto contrabbasso
1 Sassofono soprano
1 Sassofono baritono
3 Fagotti3° anche Controfagotto
6 Corni
4 Trombe
4 Tromboni
1 Tuba
Percussione I3 Tamtam
Tamtam su Timpano
2 Bongos
Timpani
Glockenspiel
Percussione II6 Tomtom
Tamburo militare
Lastra di metallo
Vibrafono
Percussione III3 Piatti sospesi
Piatti a due
Grancassa
Marimba
Campane in lastra di metallo
Campane tubolari
Crotali
2 Arpe
Celesta
Pianoforte
Archi