An die Nachgeborenen (3) (1995) for chamber ensemble


Program Notes

     Bertolt Brecht's text An die Nachgeborenen (3) (To those born after) elicits images of shame, weakness and failure, reflection with a plea for patience, and hope.  In one respect, the poem is a damning socio-political criticism (the more remarkable when considering its pre-W.W.II publication), on the other, it evokes the firm conviction, not just the possibility, that one day man will help his fellow man.

     The musical setting involves an unusual ensemble (three trombones, three oboes, violin, viola, cello, and low voice) that seeks to address, impress, and explore the poignant emotions and sentiments of the text. The interaction between the instruments and the vocal part resist any soloist-accompaniment relationship (the 2nd oboe is as much a soloists as the 3rd trombone, the viola, or the voice). Verses 1 and 4, set lyrically and in long, winding melismatic lines flank the more syllabic, declamatory, and secco presentation of the interior verses.  These poetic passages unfold within a tight formal process organized by the interrelation of distinct rhythmic modes, phrase patterns, ratios and proportions, harmonic "triangular" sets, as well as timbral and textural saturation and thinning.

     In An die Nachgeborenen, the voice of the Holy Fool is ever-present: the mouse that dares speak the truth in the mouth of the lion - even when not in exile.