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Chaya Czernowin

           The series Wintersongs started around 2002. It was a piece of 13 minutes with low instruments and a lot of noise and electronics. This piece was dark and its vitality was halted. The low instruments moved like the slow search of a plant towards light. As I was writing the piece, a very close friend, the composer Mark Osborn who was 33 years old at the time, died in a terrible and absurd car accident. The piece became also a lament.

           Soon I recognized that Wintersongs I was a very concentrated layer of a larger piece. I wanted to hear the septet without the electronics and to reinterpret the instrumental part anew. Three percussions were added and Wintersongs II: Stones was written. It included the same instrumental material of the septet but with some temporal variation and a new added line of percussion, and without the electronics.

           Still the piece wanted to grow. It was as if the original was a photograph on which I could first paint and then write, and later erase and even glue on diverse media. For the next nine years, from 2004 to 2014, I had a plan that I would continue to invent new and very different interpretations of Wintersongs.

           It was a beautiful plan: Wintersongs IV was supposed to have high septet coming in, scratching and erasing parts of the original low septet and creating strong tension between the high and fast new material and the slow and low original septet. In the last piece, Wintersongs V, this tension was supposed to break. Its cracking would expose a love song, the heart of the whole piece, which had been hidden, much like a deep archaeological layer only now discovered. A beautiful combination of piano cembalo, guitar, and two singers would be added for this layer. In all these reincarnations the original septet would be the basis and remain present.

           However, writing Wintersongs did not pan out as expected.

           When I came back to Wintersongs in 2014 to compose the last two movements, a strong change had taken place in my work. While the instrumental groups stayed the same as they had been for the last ten years, I felt that I could not restrict myself with the narrative of the high contrast and the love song while keeping the original Wintersongs always present. My perspective had changed. Now, instead of Wintersongs being a base over which one paints or writes, the original septet of the first Wintersongs became a shade of a memory—a threatening memory in Wintersongs V and a poetic, vanishing memory in Wintersongs IV. The piece had become more like an organic plant with different layers of growth, each independent yet part of the same whole; it was a contemplation of how memory evolves and eludes us.

           In contrast to the Wintersongs series, the Five action sketches are very spontaneous, quick and focused fragments, which complement the whole series and Wintersongs V in particular.

           Wintersongs V is dedicated to Dieter Schnebel on his 85th birthday in celebration of his music and was composed with ICE in mind, with joy and admiration.