Night journey : string quartet
by Katia Tiutiunnik (2000)
From the CD Concert of solo and chamber works
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It has been stated that the object of the mystical experience is a totality-a single, indefinite, unqualified entity. Mystics perceive the object in themselves, and it reveals itself to them as their own essences, or as some infinitely powerful force with which they are totally identified. The mystic dwells in it; it embraces and permeates them. Thus, in the mystical experience an individual observes the immanence of the Divine, hence, the self-identification of mystics in their ultimate depth with the Absolute. In Night Journey for string quartet (2001), it was my intention to musically portray the mystical experience, as symbolically expressed in Sufism-the mystical current of Islam. In the Islamic tradition, the paradigm for the mystical experience is the story of the Prophet Muhammad's isrā or "night journey" and his ascent through the seven heavens, known as al-mi'rāj. Al-mi'rāj and al-isrā were the initial sources of inspiration for Night Journey-a composition which has been performed in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, three times to critical acclaim, by the world renowned Rimsky-Kosakov Quartet of Saint-Petersburg.
The melodic material in Night Journey encompasses variations of five originally composed melodies, based on the Bayyati, Shuri, Sabá, Higaz and Rast Nawà maqāmāt respectively. This melodic sequence is one of the myriad symbolic references to the mystical experience--or journey-in this composition, since, in the Arabic language, the word maqām can also signify an emotional, material and/or spiritual state. Also, in the Islamic ethos the fourth maqām in this sequence, the higaz, is symbolically associated with midnight. It was at midnight when the Prophet Muhammad was taken on his isrā (night journey) to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The last maqām in the sequence, the rast, is associated with sunrise in the Islamic ethos. Since sunrise marks the birth of a new day, and the end of the night, this maqām was intended as a symbol of illumination and rebirth, in Night Journey.
Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello.
Duration: 26 min.
Contents note: i. Praise be to Allah, who took His servant on a journey by night -- ii. Whenever a melody touched their ears, their hearts turned to the beloved -- iii. The Lote Tree of the Utmost Boundary.
Dedication note: Dedicated to the Rimsky-Korsakov Quartet of St Petersburg, Russia
Commission note: Commissioned by the Rimsky-Korsakov Quartet of St Petersburg, Russia
First performance: by Rimsky-Korsakov Quartet — 23 Dec 01. Palace of the Composers’ Society of Saint-Petersburg, Russia
The composer notes the following subjects, influences, styles etc associated with this work:
Arab music; Islamic music; Persian music; Russian music
Night Journey for string quartet
Performances of this work
19 Mar 07: Dom Kompozitorov (the Palace of the Saint-Petersburg Composers’ Society), Saint-Petersburg, Russia. Featuring Rimsky-Korsakov Quartet.
24 Jun 06: Dom Kompozitorov (the Palace of the Saint-Petersburg Composers’ Society), Saint-Petersburg, Russia. Featuring Rimsky-Korsakov Quartet.
23 Dec 01: Palace of the Composers’ Society of Saint-Petersburg, Russia. Featuring Rimsky-Korsakov Quartet.
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