Music for pluck instruments (CD »Interludien«)

Kurt Schwaen: »Interludien« / »Interludes«. New music for plucked string instruments

About music

(Exerpt from CD booklet)

(...) This CD represents nearly half a century of Zupfmusik and of Kurt Schwaen’s own work in this field of chamber music for pluckes string instruments (for which he has always shown a great enthusiasm). A feature here in contrast to many recordings of Zupfmusik is the large part played by soloists. The Zupforchester as such is only represented by Abendmusik (Schwaen’s earliest piece on this CD) and Fern und nah which, being Neue Nationaltänze, point to their origins. Schwaen’s first pieces in this genre (written in 1948/49) were greeted with incomprehension and were considered unplayable. They have since become part of the standard repertoire. Not so the newer, in Schwaen’s opinion, more important pieces.

This compositions on this CD trace Kurt Schwaen’s stylistic development and at the same time the technical and programmatic development of Zupfmusik over the last 50 years. Perhaps this collection can play a part in the overcoming the reluctance shown by a number of orchestras to new music. The proportion of these contrasting pieces to include soloists in unusually large Zupforchester, another for solo flute, and the orchestra for Suite concertante includes parts for solo mandoline and guitar.

What inspires Kurt Schwaen (whose starting point was the piano, and os composer of chamber music, concertos and opera) to write music for plucked string instruments?

»I consider the Zupforchester to be a type of chamber music and as such it has a spesial importance today teaching the ear to listen to quiet sounds.«

He continues to be excited by the discovery of new soundscapes and combinations. Inquiries for new pieces are always followed up, as this record shows.

The Balletto was written for the Zupforchester G. Ph. Telemann of Magdeburg which wanted a new work for the Telemann-Ehrung 1981 adding the musical wish that the orchestra’s patron-name should receive consideration, Schwaen reacted by including the Chasse by Telemann and, so as not to isolate the classical element, he added Rameau’s Rigaudon.

The Musica Antiqua Saraviensis requested, with flattering words, a composition for cembalo and Zupforchester as a talented young cembalist was available (more compositions for this ensemble were to follow). The Vision orientale was the result of an inquiry from the Japanese mandolinist Yasao Kuwahara. In the Izba is a result of journeys to Bulgaria where he came to love their fascinating, rhythmically complex folkmusic. A letter from the publisher (a platonic client) was to prove influential to the composition of the Suite Concertante; in it he made an allusion to the composer’s fondness of brevity, and suggested that since two soloists would be needed – possibly professionals – a certain duration would be advantageous. And perhaps a programmatic content could be considered? You can read the titles of the individual movements to find the answer.

»I don’t believe in composing for the bottom drawer. I believe that a composer should be in touch with performers and public. And when someone approaches me about a composition, be it for piano, a trio, for an orchestra, Zupforchester, or an opera house, then I write something straight away.«

Ina Iske
Translation: Will Roper

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