Lewis Carroll, Bible, Novalis, Claude Vivier (F-E)
SATB chorus and 4 soloists (SATB); perc(1):Balinese gongs/rin gongs/tuned gongs/ant.cym/tam-t/BD/wooden drum/t.bells
Boosey & Hawkes (Hendon Music)
Convocation Hall, Toronto
Billie Bridgman, soprano / Sandra Graham, mezzo-soprano / Robert Missen, tenor / Giulio Kukuruga, bass / David Kent, percussion / Festival Singers of Canada / John Barnum
Attracting forces of my childhood (or maybe better, the one I always wanted to have!) Journal is indeed a very autobiographical piece.
It is divided into four parts: Childhood, Love, Death, After Death. It is mainly inspired by the very fact that during the greatest part of my childhood I was always looking for my own mother, who I thought was somehow Polish, [by] mystical concepts which I also hold from my childhood where Christmas was a big event and where reality was not the one I was, in fact, living but one I was taken from in a very strange fashion. As a whole, my musical world is part of a definite realm enlightened by others, those being more subtle. While writing the piece, I always felt a presence which wanted me to write this very specific music. Dreams of music came to me so unusual that I had to translate them with my human tools! There is always a discrepancy between pure thought and music. Words came along with the music, in fact, sometimes they added cosmic dimensions, or, better, explained it in a very specific manner. Life for me is a continuous search for purity and a few steps towards the disembodiment of my being. Already in the beginning of life through those childhood plays, you encounter mystical characters like Master Merlin, and the whole game of life is set in universal harmony with an acute, somehow non-volitional, consciousness, a consciousness of the other existence parallel to ours! The Jabberwocky fight is, of course, a passage rite as are Merlin's three questions.
Childhood is constructed around six melodies of evolving complexity. The last [one] being a four-voiced counterpoint. This part deals with a poetical structuring of the music. Its form follows an association-type of structure: the text leads me into specific musical constructions and the music, into specific texts! Already in this part I use Sprechstimme. To me the spoken texts lie on the edge of expression because they are rhythmical speech with written-out voice-inflection; they become a reflection upon "sung" music itself! They indeed recreate the inner world, the sung world belonging in some respect to the world of communication, the world of signs. In fact, there is, throughout the piece, a whole range of statements lying between those two extremes.
One will see in this score that I always stayed within our traditional technical limits, this is because, from a known base, I wanted to be able to reach unknown abysses and realms!
The second part, Love, opens which calls to names of great lovers. This part is dynamic and dramatic, where the opening concentrates on a major third. Through the entire work, you will find two other such concentrations one on the movement of two chords and one on a melody.
Love deals with dramatic developments (search for love and its discovery) and, on the other hand, with a much tighter musical structure evolving through several musical and dramatic units. Of all the parts in this work, this is the most "down to earth". Search for love ranging from the Bible to the brothel. Freezings in time, solitude, fear. Characters of childhood or their impersonations still appear! But after the search, we do find love: the melody of cosmic love is sung by both the choir and the soloists.
Death is preceded by a concentration on a movement: oscillation between two chords and the evocation of the poet Mayakovsky. (As you know, in spiritualism very often, souls trying to make contact with earthlings are those who have committed suicide).
Light of the external world fading out and light of the interior world fading in...
This third section has a obvious structure, that is, opposition, clear[ly] cut parts. Half of it is based on a 12-tone chord sometimes transposed half a tone higher. Here and there, reminiscences of the composition itself appear and slowly there is more and more light. There is also a personal remembrance: "Luceat" which is based on a melody I wrote more than eight years ago! Somehow meditative but still carrying archetypes of death (Requiem, a long monody on "in Paradisum" (like a thread throughout the first part) crying, prayers), it is indeed a reference [to] own medieval past but transposed to an idiom that glides slowly from darkness to light. When the music opens up to light, it is with a quotation of the counterpoint from Childhood (only slower and lower). Somehow, the cycle of life has been completed. Needless to say, this moves toward eternity!
Then comes the melody of "light", opening into consciousness; the soul is wandering through the cosmos and its multifaced dimensions. That is the final concentration: on a melody!
After Death remains unfinished, or better, thrives in the silence which follows. The words "come, let's go—ya" are indeed an invitation to more refined and subtle spheres of the universe...
— Claude Vivier
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.