Land's End : orchestra
by Lisa Illean (2015)
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Small artworks on paper draw the viewer in. Wind-swept ocean surfaces, frozen in time, with no horizon, no perspective. Works of detail and obsession, each created over a full year with a simple graphite pencil.
Composer Lisa Illean found inspiration in these small yet epic seascapes of Latvian-American artist Vija Celmins. 'In such work, surfaces act as forms through which subtle change can be perceived and felt.' In response, Illean's piece, Land's End, 'evolves gradually, like a change in temperature or hue.' Gentle transience is everywhere: harmonies shift glacially, notes barely emerge, notes slide slowly, speeds imperceptibly change.
'For some time,' says Illean, 'I have been interested in sounds comprised of hushed repetitive fragments. These recall the murmurings - of human voices or natural elements - that form a continuous, ever-varying undertint to more foreground sounds.' The music of Land's End is hushed, still. High, fragile strings glisten; brass mumble, muted; percussion barely touch their instruments. This tranquility opens a space for audiences so that 'the experience of the piece is to be found as much within the listener as the sounds that I have organised.' Illean challenges her players with a 'discreet virtuosity of of finely attuned listening, tuning and balance.' This is a virtuosity that we, leaning quietly forward in the audience, can share.
Timothy Munro © 2016
Instrumentation: Alto flute (doubling piccolo), oboe, clarinet in Bb (doubling bass clarinet), clarinet in Bb (tuned a ¼ tone lower), alto saxophone (doubling soprano saxophone – soprano tuned a ¼ tone lower), bassoon (doubling contrabassoon), 2 horns, trumpet in Bb, trombone, tuba, percussion (2 players), harp, piano, strings.
Duration: 11 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Resonate article: Lisa Illean and Cantor by Anni Heino
- Inspired by: Visual arts works
Performances of this work
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