Caerulean - Rebecca Saunders International Festival of Contemporary Music Warsaw Autumn

go to content

Collaborative sessions with Carl Rosman over the years have led me to delve into a complex palette of quiet, unstable and fragile sounds for the bass clarinet. These two or three-part sounds, or dyads, are combined with permutations of two series of underblown tones, all of which can be combined with each other and then further differentiated with double trills, flutter tongue, and a multitude of timbral nuances. 

These essentially fleeting pianissimo sounds fascinate me because of their inherent fragility, their transience and beauty, and their ability to surface most gently out of, and disappear into, silence, as if the act of composing were that of unveiling the sounds, drawing them out from under the surface of silence. 

More recent exploration revealed that some of the sounds, when played loud, were surprisingly direct and intense, enabling me to employ an extreme timbral contrast at critical formal moments within the whole composition. 

All said and done, this solo can also be heard as a simple one to three-part melodic line. Circling within itself. Endless.

A quotation from Samuel Beckett serves to crystallise certain thoughts which preoccupied me during the composing process: 

“...The strokes now faint now clear as if carried by the wind but not a breath and the cries now faint now clear. As he stood there all bowed down and to his ears faint from deep within again and again oh...” 

Samuel Beckett, Stirrings Still, 1986–89 

Rebecca Saunders