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Galina Ivanovna Ustvolskaya: Composition No. 2 — Dies Iræ; Jean-Michaël Lavoie; Vents nordiques… to chase away COVID-19!

8 double basses, piano and percussion

Based on a four-note motif, the dark Composition No. 2 — Dies irae (“Day of Wrath” in Latin), is divided into ten asymmetrical sections: the violent sounding first section introduces the theme at the piano; the second is a lament, interrupted by the depth of the percussion; in the third, the bass drum is struck with a frightening brutality; in the fourth, the eight double basses are divided: the first four play high-pitched notes; the other four, play behind the bridge of their instrument. The fury of the piano pervades the fifth and sixth sections. The seventh recalls the violence of the previous section, exacerbated by the hardness of the percussion. Emptiness, choral fragments, four static harmonies, and pianissimo, break the inexorable course of the archaic harshness. After the eighth section, in the treble of the piano, and the synthesis of the ninth section, the tenth is suspended three times using the same harmonies, an epiphany of grace which ends the composition. This principle of returning to an earlier element will be even more evident in the Fifth Sonata, whose tenth section reprises the first, thus symbolizing the eternal rebirth.

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