In this new work for cello and orchestra, I have continued to question the relationship between a solo instrument and an ensemble, as I had done in three of my earlier works. As in the latter, the role of the solo cello is one that continually changes, yet never quite embraces the bravura ideal of the solo instrument in a traditional concerto. To this end, it could be argued that the most profound music for the cello repertoire is found in the slowest sections, with the simplest and purest of materials played without vibrato and filtered through the use of a heavy practice mute.
The ensemble itself has also undergone a dramatic transformation in this work. An unusual assemblage of non-orchestral instruments including accordion, toy piano, almglocken, steel pan, cymbalum and guitar replaces the traditional orchestral configuration. The result is a collective that is highly disparate in sound, and unbalanced in dynamic potential.
Otogi No Kuni E…, roughly translated, means “towards a fairytale land” in Japanese. This title is taken from a Japanese popular song “Little Princess”, written by Mariya Takeuchi and sung by the late Yukiko Okada. “Kono mama, te wo tori, otogi no kuni e tsurete ite” (“With things as they are, take my hand, lead me to a fairytale land”).
I would like to thank several musicians for helping me during the writing of this piece: Paul Ormandy, Andy Morris, Richard Moore, Joseph Macerollo, Joseph Petric and Alex Pauk for allowing me to compose for a “fairytale orchestra.”
Otogi No Kuni E… was commissioned in 2004 by the Esprit Orchestra with the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Chris Paul Harman, 2005 [ii-07]
Monday, March 5 – Tuesday, 6, 2007