Christian Mason (*1984) Somewhere in the Distance (Lost in the Horizon)
[orch,tape] 2021 Duration: 18'
4(B-Fl).2.4(B-Kl).2 – 18.104.22.168 – ondes martenot – Tb – 13 Str
World premiere: Donaueschingen (Donaueschinger Musiktage), October 16, 2021
Commissioned by Donaueschinger Musiktage 2021
Like several of my recent compositions this piece is concerned with proximity - nearness or distance in space, time or relationship - and the imaginative territory that can be opened up by the presence of familiar sounds in an incongruous setting. We hear natural phenomena in the midst of an orchestra, and though these sounds seem to be near, in the room with us, their original source is far. Can we experience, through listening, a thinning of the boundary between physically or geographically separate places?
Each of the three movements takes a different sound archetype from nature: water, wind and fire respectively. However these sounds are not only generic representations, many are also personal references to particular moments in my own life, each with its own web of memories; another layer of distance. While the precise personal content of this material will be of little importance to other listeners, the possibility remains that these sounds might trigger in each listener an alternative array of associations. They function - I hope -something like sonic horizon lines, always in mind even when out of view, obscured or concealed by the activity of other layers of music.
The constitution and deployment of the orchestra is another defining aspect of this piece. In front of the audience: a quartet of bass flutes; solo ondes martenot; pairs of oboes, bassoons, trumpets, trombones, and celli; a tuba and a double bass. Behind the audience: quartets of bass clarinets and horns. To the sides seven violins (on the left), and three violas (on the right). Timbre is linked to space, with different colours coming from different directions. Yet the musical emphasis is less on the movement of sounds around the space, and more on the creation of a collective body-of-sound, a shared sonority in which to lose ourselves.
(Christian Mason, July 2022)