This piece consists of the unusual instrumentation of western instruments with clarinet, violin, violoncello and double bass and in addition to them, the shō, a traditional Japanese instrument which is very rarely used in the European area. It may be known in contemporary music from Helmut Lachenmann’s opera ›Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern‹ (The little match girl), where a whole own, spherical part is dedicated to the shō.
However, in -strained-, especially the shō – sometimes in combination with the ensemble – reflects the physical tension of an object, as for example a string, which is influenced by the outside. This image is established only after a few bars, when the strings tune their strings upwards to the standard tuning after starting a partially fifth scordatura lower. Thereby, they are manifesting the starting point for the whole piece: physical tension and influence on it from other external factors.
-strained- was composed for the 90th anniversary of Kunitachi College of Music Tōkyō, which I assisted in January 2017 as a student of their partner university in Karlsruhe, Germany, to work on the performance of this piece and finally premiere it.
You can find articles about the project and my stay in Japan under ›Japan‹ in the main menu.
instrumentation: shō | clarinet in Bb | violin | violoncello | double bass
duration: approx. 10 min.
date of world premiere: 2017-01-29 | Tōkyō
Score extracts plus recordings can be found under ›chamber music and ensemble‹