Lachenmann: "... Zwei Gefuehle ..."
for 2 Speakers, and Ensemble

UA Stuttgart, 9. Oktober 1992

Like "Mouvement", "... Zwei Gefühle..." has been incorporated into the repertoire of leading international chamber ensembles. With "... Zwei Gefühle...", moreover, Lachenmann first gave expression to a central aspect of his opera "Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern", which was premiered in 1997: the compositional treatment of the text by Leonardo da Vinci is used there as an insert within the second section.

A large portion of "... Zwei Gefühle ..." was written in Luigi Nono’s empty house in Sardinia (he died in 1990), and there is no doubt that his memory influenced my conception of the piece at the time.
My work began from the experience of "structural hearing", which is to say the perception and observation of what resonates in an immediate manner, but also the relationships which structure it. These are tied to interior images and feelings which do not in any way distract from this process of observation, but remain indissolubly linked to it and even give it a particular intensity. This is the strange situation which we encounter when we decipher a message concerning us. The immediate job of perception, the (eventually laborious) recognition and assembly of signs on the one hand and, on the other, the power of the message as an intrinsic structure, are strongly intertwined, to the extent of determining one another and forming a complex and unitary experience.
The two narrators of Leonardo da Vinci’s text in "... Zwei Gefühle ..." ("... Two Feelings ...") are the two quasi-complementary conscious parts of an imaginary "Wanderer" and of a reader who marvels in silence. These two function in an unconscious manner akin to the two hands of a blindman working together, which might pass over the text as over a precious inscription, seizing upon its particles, one after the other, and assembling them in his memory as well as can be expected. This assemblage is both concentrated and sober, "damaged" and "struck" (in both senses of the term), since semantically it is an anxious search conducted in ignorance, in which the groping blindman recognises himself.
Whatever resonates is understood as twofold: a material deduced and transformed from the phonetic components and, at the same time, as sparse fragments of a traditional reservoir of affective gestures, arranged in a new way through the sonic relationship of acoustic fields, articulated variously from within, like different volcanoes which come to life or cool off. A Mediterranean sound landscape at an inhospitable altitude - a "pastoral" written while pondering over what links me to the composer of "Hay que caminar".

Helmut Lachenmann, translated by J. T. Tuttle
(program notes for the Huddersfield Festival 2000)

Desire of Knowledge
The raging sea, whipped by the north wind, does not make such a roar with its tumultuous waters between Charybdis and Scylla. Neither do Stromboli nor Mongibello, when the suphurous flames that they enclose force and burst the tall mountain, spewing stones and earth into the air along with the spurting flame that they vomit; neither Mongibello, when its blazing caves release the elements restrained with such difficulty, spitting and vomiting them furiously round about, repulsing everything which might be an obstacle to their impetuous surge ...
Drawn from my vain reverie and desirous of seeing the myriad varied forms created by fecund Nature, I wandered a moment amongst the shadowy rocks and eventually reached a large cave before which I remained a moment, stunned and totally unaware of this marvel. I bent my back, my left hand on my knee and, with my right hand, shaded my squinting eyes, repeatedly leaning from one side to the other, attempting to distinguish something within. But that was made impossible by the darkness which reigned. Soon, two things rose up in me: fear and desire - the fear of the dark and threatening grotto, and the desire to see if there was nothing mysterious there.
(extract from: Leonardo da Vinci - Codici Arundel, translated by J. T. Tuttle)

Non fa sì gran mugghio il tempestoso mare, quando il settentrionale aquilone lo ripercuote colle schiumose onde fra Scilla e Cariddi, né Stromboli o Mongibello quando le solfure fiamme, essendo rinchiuse, per forza rompendo e aprendo il gran monte, fulminando per l’aria pietra, terra, insieme coll’uscita e vomitata fiamma, né quando le infocate caverne di Mongibello rivomitando il male tenuto elemento, spigniendolo alla sua regione con furia, cacciando innanzi qualunque ostacolo s’interpone alla sua impetuosa furia.
E tirato dalla mia bramosa voglia, vago di vedere la gran copia delle varie e strane forme fatte dalla artificiosa natura raggiratomi alquanto infra gli ombrosi scogli, pervenni all’entrata d’una caverna, dinanzi alla quale, restato alquanto stupefatto e ignorante di tal cosa, piegato le mie reni in arco, e ferma la stanca mano sopra il ginocchio e colla destra mi feci tenebre alle abbassate e chiuse ciglia, e spesso piegandomi in qua e in là per vedere dentro, vi discernessi alcuna cosa, e questo vietatomi per la grande oscurità che là entro era. È stato alquanto, subito s’alza in me due cose: paura e desiderio, paura  per la minacciosa oscura spelonca, desiderio di vedere se là entro fosse alcuna miracolosa cosa.
(Leonardo da Vinci, Codex Arundel)


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