Johannes Maria Staud (*1974) Stromab
for Large Orchestra [orch] 2016/17 duration: 17'
3(A-fl/Picc.B-fl).3(cor ang.musette).3(bassetthn.db-clar).S-sax.T-sax.2.db bsn - 18.104.22.168. - timp.perc(4) - hp - pno.cel - str: 22.214.171.124.6.
World première: Copenhagen, September 22, 2017
“... A rising river, perhaps, always suggests something of the ominous: many of the little islands I saw before me would probably have been swept away by the morning; this resistless, thundering flood of water touched the sense of awe. Yet I was aware that my uneasiness lay deeper far than the emotions of awe and wonder...”(from: Algernon Blackwood, The Willows, 1907)
This piece is inspired by Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows. In this short story, one of the finest horror stories of all time, two young people canoe down the Danube. They finally fetch up at high water in a floodplain on a lonely island field, apparently totally untouched by civilization. There they undergo weird things in a very confined space, things gradually threatening to increase to almost cosmic dimensions – always accompanied by a strangely circling sound that can’t be located, seemingly hovering eerily over the setting.
My work is not program music, but is able to sense the incredible vibrations emanating from Blackwood’s musically visionary prose. It also takes the image of voyaging along a great stream seriously. In Stromab the whole orchestra is sent in its dazzling diversity like a boat down the great river. Since, according to Blackwood, a river is a capricious, gigantic, unruly, primeval creature, there must of course also be, besides idyllic landscapes, treacherous currents and dangerous whirlpools that more than once almost capsize the boat in the raging waters before it again ultimately reaches calmer waters in the delta.
(Johannes Maria Staud, 2017)