Terug! (2003)

(Samuel Vriezen)

Written for Orkest De Volharding between 1999 and 2003, Terug! (Dutch for Back! as in: go back, not the body part) was a study of the tragic in fundamentalism, that is: of the impossibility of reducing complex material to a supposed core.

The original version was in 7 movements, but 3 of them are up for revision - but as a 4-movement suite it works nicely.

The idea of 'reduction' is heard most clearly in movements 3, 5 and 7. 3 is a sort of fugue in which each of the parts leaves out notes upon each statement of the melody - but nobody seems to be able to agree on which notes to leave out, so these reductions of the melody end up making the whole much more complex than it started out.

Similar things happen in nr. 5, but here the movement is started anew a number of times - backtracking to ever different beginnings.

In nr. 7, the very origin of Orkest De Volharding is brought into play: the trill that started Louis Andriessen's original founding composition. All the material in the piece gets compressed, 'sucked up' by this trill, and so the piece ends with a bizarre microscopic and microtonal final chord that you may or may not think of as the Core of Music finally achieved.

The original sonic inspiration for the 4th movement came from hearing an early Feldman piece, and hearing it as marine life forms seen moving through unclear waters. The movement combines reductive processes with canonic techniques to produce a continuously morphing field of total polyphony. The processes are much harder to distinguish here: perpetual reduction leads to an opaque, but very pretty, ever changing field of sound. This was the first movement where I used independent accelerandi and ritardandi in all voices. (such as, later, in Panoramic Variations)

Terug! was commissioned by the Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst. The recording here presents the 2nd performance of the piece at Theater Kikker, Utrecht.

Download Terug! III
Download Terug! IV
Download Terug! V
Download Terug! VII

Weblog Entry
on the background of this piece and on the folding of De Volharding (in Dutch)