The Eternal Earth

SPHERE Festival - NACO Live

2022-09-22 20:00 2022-09-22 22:00 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: The Eternal Earth

https://nac-cna.ca/en/event/30521

In-person event

The NAC Orchestra honours the Earth and the perseverance of life against increasingly difficult odds by performing works from three very different composers.   To hear German-British composer Max Richter’s Recomposed Four Seasons is to be swept up in the passionate urgency of nature, its mysteries and joys and the delicate persistence of the seasons on our planet. In this remarkable work, Vivaldi has spoken and Richter has answered with ferocious love for the...

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Southam Hall,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa,Canada
Thursday, September 22, 2022
8 PM EDT

Program

Last updated: September 20, 2022

OUTI TARKIAINEN Selections from The Earth, Spring’s Daughter
MAX RICHTER The New Four Seasons (Vivaldi Recomposed)
ALEXINA LOUIE The Eternal Earth

Program Notes

Tonight’s NACO concert, the first of the SPHERE Festival, is a musical exploration of the relationship between humans and the place we call home: Earth. In each their own way, the works on this program celebrates the miraculous power of our planet to bring forth and sustain life. They also consider the natural cycles that govern life on Earth—birth, development, transformation, death, renewal—the “seasons” of life, as well as the seasons in nature. In doing so, these pieces bring to our attention our impact—individual and collective—on the progress of those cycles, and how they change because of it.

The concert opens and closes with pieces by Finnish composer Outi Tarkiainen and Canadian composer Alexina Louie. Both draw inspiration from creation myths and cyclic perspectives on life, while also evoking the longing and anger over lost ways of life and animal species through colonization and environmental change. At the centre, we’ll hear Max Richter’s “recomposed” Four Seasons, in which the British composer “recycles”, if you will, Antonio Vivaldi’s four violin concertos from the early 18th century, to create a new hybrid work.

Repertoire

OUTI TARKIAINEN

selections from The Earth, Spring’s Daughter

I. Prologa / Prologue – No. 1: Eanan, giđa nieida / The Earth, spring’s daughter 
II. No. 7: Mun sárggun dáid govaid / I inscribe these images – Epiloga / Epilogue

Outi Tarkiainen’s song cycle The Earth, Spring’s Daughter for mezzo soprano and orchestra was composed in 2014–2015. A joint commission by the three northernmost professional orchestras in Europe—Lapland Chamber Orchestra, Norbotten Chamber Orchestra, and the Arctic Philharmonic—it’s the first song cycle to use texts by Sámi poets. Tonight, you’ll hear the first and the seventh (final) songs, framed by the prologue and epilogue that bookend the cycle.

Tarkiainen describes the thematic concept of her work as follows:

Eanan, giđa nieida (in English, The Earth, Spring’s Daughter) is a mythical epos illustrating the core experiences of the North from the history to our times. The text is a vast collage of Sámi poetry—the Sámi people being the only indigenous people in the Europe. The strong mutual bond between the generations and the Sámi culture’s cyclical perception of time are present also in the structure of the work: the music unfolds in layers and cycles, to be born again and again.

As Juha Torvinen has shown in his in-depth analysis, the piece has a cyclic structure that links the Prologue and Epilogue as a frame, then the songs in related pairs working inward—first and seventh, second and sixth, etc. The Prologue opens the cycle, as Tarkiainen outlines, “in the metaphorical realm of the gods in which Spring gives birth to a daughter, Earth. The earth is wide open and deserted, and eternal time ascends and descends.” Against a backdrop of vibraphone and crotales over sustained notes in the strings, the text is spoken. Following the line “suddenly they both squatted,” the English horn intones a motif representing Earth, after which the text declares her born. Later, solo violin plays an upward reaching motif—this is Longing, which, accompanied by the Earth motif, is a musical evocation of a longing for the Earth itself.

Out of the Prologue, the first song emerges, in which it “presents the work’s main themes and textures, and they slowly orbit, each on its own path, forever following one another—just as in Sámi culture’s cyclical perception of time.” Alongside the Longing and Earth motifs, a third one, Eternity, appears three times played by vibraphone and celesta, thus underscoring the final lines of the text.

From here, we cut to the final song, which, Tarkiainen says, “finally draws a picture that has and is everything—and from which there is no return. The hauntingly beautiful song can nevertheless still be heard as if from behind a curtain….” It begins introspectively, then picks up pace and intensity, reaching a thunderous climax on “and I resound”. The composer describes the moment like the collapse of reality into a wormhole, in which the music becomes a mass of sound and noise. It then recedes into silence on whispered repetitions of the words “in boađe”.

Rain-stick sounds lead into the Epilogue, which brings back the Prologue’s text but this time, it’s sung, not spoken, and is extended. In the music, the foundation of sustained tones returns; however, the Earth and Longing motifs are absent, and have been replaced by the melody of Suuvivirsi, a Finnish hymn praising spring and summer. It’s initially embedded in the accompaniment to the vocal line, first played by solo cello, then solo violin, underlining the text about Spring giving birth to Earth, then covering it with snow. Torvinen notes that while the hymn’s inclusion points to the importance of intergenerational knowledge (the text now includes a grandmother), it also stands in tension to it possibly representing Christianity’s colonization of the Sámi peoples. At the close, the celesta intones the hymn’s opening phrase—a conclusion that is both ambivalent and provocative in meaning.

The performance of the Epilogue is accompanied by the showing of the film Kasvojen vaihdos (Change of Faces) by filmmaker and visual artist Elina Oikari. Inspired by Sámi poetry, the video, which merges super 8 mm film and archive material, can be seen as a kinetic meditation about Arctic lifeways and landscapes.

Texts and Translations

Texts by Rauni Maaga Lukari and Nils-Aslak Valkeapää.
English translations by Kaija Anttonen, Ralph Salisbury, and Harald Gaski.

Eanan, giđa nieida

Prologa

Soai vácciiga buohtalaga
eadni ja nieida
vuostebiggii mii sojahalai sieđggaid
loktii muohttaga ja sudno helmmiid
Guoldu sázai ratti
Ii lean šat velojaš jurddašit geasi ja cizážiid
Fáhkkestaga goappašagat nolliheaigga
ja riegádahtiiga rabasnjálmmat nieidamánáid

I

Eanan, giđa nieida
  loktana, luoitá
       jápma, riegáda
oavddolaš eallima máihli

Ja dát luotkko gođus gos biegga johtá
áiggiid gihppu, loažža giesastuvvon oktii

iige áigi leat, eai geažit, eai
ja áigi lea, agálaččat, álo, lea

VII

mun sárggun dáid govaid
geađgái gárrái
                                       áigái
iežan govat
mu eará hámit

ja soapmásin jáhkán
ahte mun dat lean
                                       dáid govaid
ja mus nu olu hámit

ja dál, dál de iežan sárggun
                                  ollisin, easka
                                                         čavddisin
ja mun čuojan go dat čuojaha mu
               ja jávkkan bosastaga mielde
                        áiggi ábii'e

ja dan govas
in boađe ruoktot
šahten

Epiloga

Soai vácciiga buohtalaga
eadni ja nieida
vuostebiggii mii sojahalai sieđggaid
loktii muohttaga ja sudno helmmiid
Guoldu sázai ratti
Ii lean šat velojaš jurddašit geasi ja cizážiid
Fáhkkestaga goappašagat nolliheaigga
ja riegádahtiiga rabasnjálmmat nieidamánáid
maid soai govččaigga muohttagiin
vai njuoraguovttos bivašeaigga
Ieža soai velledeigga báldii
ja lávlugođiiga geassesálmma
Go soai leaigga vuosttas vearssa gergehan
iđii miehtebiekkas eatni eadni
velledii sutno njuoratguokta gaskii
ja čuovvolii sálmma

The Earth, Spring’s Daughter

Prologue

They walked side by side,
mother and daughter,
against a wind that made junipers bend
and the snow and their hemlines rise
wind lashing their chests
One could no longer think of summer and birds
Suddenly they both squatted
and gave birth to gaping baby girls

I

The Earth, spring's daughter
   rises, falls
        is born, dies
a wonder life's sap

And this airy fabric in which the wind wends,
a bundle of times, loosely wound together

and time does not exist, no end, none
and time is, eternal, always, is

VII

I inscribe these images
on the stone on the drum
                                   in time
my images
my other shapes

and sometimes I believe
that this is me
                        these images
and so many shapes of me

and now, now I draw myself
                                   whole, finally
                                                         complete
and I resound when it plays within me
and I disappear with the gusts of wind
to the sea of time

and from this image
I will not return
again

Epilogue

They walked side by side,
mother and daughter,
against a wind that made junipers bend
and the snow and their hemlines rise
wind lashing their chests
One could no longer think of summer and birds
Suddenly they both squatted
and gave birth to gaping baby girls
whom they covered with snow
so they would not freeze
Then they lay down by the newborns
and began a summer hymn
As they were through with the first verse
the mother's mother appeared from upwind
she lay down between the babies
and joined the singing

 

Film: Kasvojen vaihdos (Change of Faces)

Written & directed by: Elina Oikari
Cinematographer & film editor: Elina Oikari
Color grading: Sarrah Wilkman, Grade One Oy
Performers: Edith Båhl, Inka-Maaria
Supported by: Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation & The Arts Promotion Centre Finland

MAX RICHTER

Recomposed Four Seasons

I. Spring 0
II. Spring 1
III. Spring 2 –
IV. Spring 3
V. Summer 1 –
VI. Summer 2
VII. Summer 3
VIII. Autumn 1
IX. Autumn 2
X. Autumn 3
XI. Winter 1
XII. Winter 2
XIII. Winter 3

Max Richter created The New Four Seasons in 2012 for Deutsche Grammophon’s Recomposed recording series, for which contemporary artists are invited to reinterpret classical works. Recorded by Daniel Hope and the Konzerthaus Kammerorchester in Berlin, it became hugely successful, topping classical charts; it has also appeared on the soundtracks of TV shows and films, even fashion shows. A new re-recording with period instruments featuring soloist Elena Urioste and musicians of the Chineke Orchestra was released earlier this year.

In a recent article for The Guardian (June 10, 2022), Richter mentioned that while he fell in love with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons when he listened to it as a child, he later hated it for its ubiquitous presence, and ceased to hear it as music. “You hear it in the supermarket regularly, you’re confronted with it in adverts or hear it as muzak when on hold. Slowly you begin to blank it out.” He eventually felt he needed “to resolve the love/hate relationship I had with the work—call it an exorcism—and reclaim Vivaldi’s original as a musical object rather than a sonic irritant. The best way to do that, I decided, would be to take a voyage through Vivaldi’s landscape and to make new discoveries there.”

In his process of re-composition, Richter observed that “As I looked into [Vivaldi’s] score I saw there was a natural meeting point between his Baroque language and my own. Vivaldi’s work is very pattern-based, and he generates his effects by juxtaposing contrasting kinds of material. That’s very much the way post-minimal music and electronic dance music operates, and I found plenty of touch points that enabled me to dive into his material in a natural, sculptural, and architectural way.” The New Four Seasons opens with, in Richter’s words, "a dubby cloud which I’ve called ‘Spring 0’. It functions as a sort of prelude, setting up an electronic, ambient space for the first ‘Spring’ movement to step into.” After that, his score employs only a quarter of Vivaldi’s material, which he manipulates with techniques such as looping, overdubbing, and subtle metrical and rhythmic shifts, often layering them on to slow-moving ostinato backdrops. Some movements are also inscribed with references to contemporary genres and styles of music. “Summer 1” is "heavy music for the orchestra,” he says. “It’s relentless pulsed music, which is a quality that contemporary dance music has; and perhaps I was also thinking about John Bonham’s [of Led Zeppelin] drumming.” For “Autumn 2”, he feels the harpsichord part should be played “very regularly, rather like a ticking clock […] because that style connects to various pop records from the 1970s where the harpsichord or Clavinet was featured, including various Beach Boys albums and the Beatles’ Abbey Road.”

The overall effect of Richter’s new hybrid work is that aspects of the seasons described in the sonnets (believed to be written by Vivaldi) and evoked in the original concertos are intensified, becoming more sonically vivid and expressive. For example, there’s a certain dance-vibe joy to “Spring 1” and “Spring 3”, and a fresh edge to the furious storm in “Summer 3”. The slow movements, like “Summer 2” and “Autumn 2” are more elegiac in mood, full of longing, whereas “Winter 2” acquires a strikingly stark beauty reinterpreted as a lone violin wandering freely in a frozen landscape of sustained strings.

Alexina Louie

The Eternal Earth

I. Summoning the Earth Spirit
II. To the Ends of the Earth
III. The Radiant Universe

The Eternal Earth is “at once my plea for the continuation of life on earth and a celebration of the joys of the universe,” Alexina Louie says of her orchestral piece from 1986. Commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, it’s a virtuosic work for large ensemble, which exhibits her distinctive blend of Eastern and Western musical influences. Of the former, this includes the expansion of the orchestra’s instrumentation to incorporate Chinese tom toms, a bender gong, a large button gong, and tam tams. Indeed, the work requires a massive assemblage of percussion instruments as well as some extended playing techniques to evoke the mystical power of the Earth and the universe.

From the start, we feel the full power of this huge orchestra, in a movement that Louie has said should sound “teeth-shattering”. As she describes it:

Vigorous fanfare-like motifs and thunderous percussion effects including lion’s roar, gongs, tam-tams, and Chinese toms-toms characterize the first movement, which calls forth the dragon spirit from the bowels of the earth. It is this spirit that Kakuzō Okakura in his book The Awakening of Japan calls “the spirit of change, therefore of life itself.”

The atmospheric second movement, “To the Ends of the Earth”, “is a tranquil, lyrical cradle song for our world with tender solo passages for cello, piccolo, harp, and celeste,” Louie explains. “It is meant as a song of solace for the distant, disappearing corners of the world and with them, the ways of life and species of nature that are being lost to us forever. Included in this movement are some exotic instrumental effects: the rubbing of water-filled crystal wine glasses, a shimmering glissando effect on the timpani, and a particular “seagull” glissando performed by the cello section at the end of the movement.”

The final movement is “an affirmation of life and a joyful celebration of the oneness of heaven and earth.” After a recall of the first movement’s opening fanfare motif, “The Radiant Universe” becomes a lively, energetic dance, featuring the various instrumental groups (strings, woodwinds, brass) alternately moving together through rapidly shifting harmonies. To close, a final ascent through the strings and woodwinds culminates with ecstatic full-orchestra chords that resolve thrillingly to a resounding consonance.

 

Program notes by Hannah Chan-Hartley, PhD

NAC Orchestra

First Violins
Yosuke Kawasaki (concertmaster)
Jessica Linnebach (associate concertmaster)
Noémi Racine Gaudreault (assistant concertmaster)
Jeremy Mastrangelo
Marjolaine Lambert
Manuela Milani
Emily Westell
*Zhengdong Liang
*Erica Miller
*Martine Dubé
*Heather Schnarr
*Oleg Chelpanov
*John Corban

Second violins
Mintje van Lier (principal)
Winston Webber (assistant principal)
Frédéric Moisan
Carissa Klopoushak
Mark Friedman
Karoly Sziladi
Leah Roseman
**Edvard Skerjanc
*Emily Kruspe
*Renée London
*Andréa Armijo Fortin
*Marc Djokic

Violas
Jethro Marks (principal / solo)
David Goldblatt (assistant principal)
David Marks (associate principal)
Paul Casey
David Thies-Thompson
*Christoph Chung
*Alexander Moroz

Cellos
Rachel Mercer (principal)
Julia MacLaine (assistant principal)
Marc-André Riberdy
Timothy McCoy
Leah Wyber
*Desiree Abbey
*Karen Kang

Double basses
*Joel Quarrington (guest principal)
**Hilda Cowie
Max Cardilli
Vincent Gendron
Marjolaine Fournier
*Travis Harrison

Flutes
Joanna G'froerer (principal)
Stephanie Morin
*Kaili Maimets

Oboes
Charles Hamann (principal)
Anna Petersen
*Melissa Scott

English Horn
Anna Petersen

Clarinets
Kimball Sykes (principal)
Sean Rice
*Juan Olivares

Bassoons

Darren Hicks (principal)
Vincent Parizeau
*Ben Glossop

Horns
Lawrence Vine (principal)
Julie Fauteux (associate principal)
Elizabeth Simpson
Lauren Anker
Louis-Pierre Bergeron

Trumpets
Karen Donnelly (principal)
Steven van Gulik
*Paul Jeffrey

Trombones
**Donald Renshaw (principal)
*Steve Dyer (guest principal)
Colin Traquair

Bass Trombone
*Zachary Bond

Tubas
Chris Lee (principal)

Timpani
*Jonathan Rance

Percussion
Jonathan Wade
*Dan Morphy
*Louis Pino
*Tim Francom

Harp
*Angela Schwarzkopf

Harpsichord
* Thomas Annand

Piano
* Olga Gross

Principal Librarian
Nancy Elbeck

Assistant Librarian
Corey Rempel

Personnel Manager
Meiko Lydall

Assistant Personnel Manager
Laurie Shannon
 

*Additional musicians
**On Leave/En congé

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