Continuum

Colin Matthews (1946)

Continuum 2000

1.afl.0.ca.1.2 bcl.1(=cbsn) - 2110 - perc (2): vib/glsp/crot/2 tuned gongs/2 tgl/susp.cym/2 metal bars/2 tam-t - harp - pno - 2 vln.3 vla.2 vlc.db
Duration 
40
Solist 
Language 
Publisher 

Over the three years in which I've been working on it, Continuum has changed and evolved, and its final shape bears little resemblance to my original plans for the work. In particular, the vocal element has grown to dominate, so that instead of my earlier intention to have two sung interludes, it is the instrumental sections which have become more to resemble interludes in what now seems almost like a 'scena' for voice and large ensemble (23 players). Yet if it is a scena, then there is no definable plot: the texts I've chosen to set are not narratives, but highly complex and elusive poems. Consequently I'm not sure - since, at the time of writing this note, I'm too close still to the piece to look at it objectively - if I can be more specific about the overall theme, other than using the imprecise words, change and transience.

Two poems by Eugenio Montale (1896 -1981) are the centre of the work, both coming from his first published collection of 1925 : Crisalide (Chrysalis) and Casa sul mare (House by the sea). The first of these is set in the original Italian, the second in the fine English translation by Jonathan Galassi. They are framed by two epigrammatic fragments from the French poems Rilke wrote towards the end of his life (coincidentally also from around 1925). I hope that these difficult and dense texts can be left to speak for themselves, and that I can be forgiven for not trying to interpret them other than through their setting. The instrumental 'interludes' - although calling them that belies the fact that they carry equal musical weight - come at the end of Crisalide : a turbulent continuation of the poem, spilling over into a sombre postlude; and before the final stanza of Casa sul mare - an almost funeral-march like interruption of the poem. The closing Rilke epigram echoes the opening: just as a continuum has no end, so the work spirals back to its beginning.

I am very grateful to Simon Clugston, Simon Rattle and the BCMG - to whom Continuum is jointly dedicated - both for commissioning the work, and for their patience as it changed out of all recognition while they waited for it to arrive.

Colin Matthews

Performances 
10.10.00 Barbican Hall, London: Cynthia Clarey / BCMG / Simon Rattle
11.10.00 Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany: Cynthia Clarey / BCMG / Simon Rattle
12.10.00 Flanders Festival, Brussels, Belgium: Cynthia Clarey / BCMG / Simon Rattle
14.10.00 Concergebouw, Amsterdam: Cynthia Clarey / BCMG / Simon Rattle
15.10.00 Vienna Konzerthaus: Cynthia Clarey / BCMG / Simon Rattle
16.10.00 Symphony Hall, Birmingham: Cynthia Clarey / BCMG / Simon Rattle
15.6.01 Aldeburgh Festival: Cynthia Clarey / BCMG / Sakari Oramo
26.6.03 Avanti Summer Sounds Festival, Porvoo, Finland: Riikka Rantanen / Avanti Chamber Orchestra /Hannu Lintu
15.9.04 Berlin Festival: Riikka Rantanen / Avanti Chamber Orchestra /Hannu Lintu
11.1.05 Los Angeles: Janice Felty / Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group / Esa-Pekka Salonen
23.1.06 Chicago, USA: Janice Felty / Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Esa-Pekka Salonen
2
Flute
2nd alto flute
1
Oboe
cor anglais
2
Clarinet
both bass clarinets
1
Bassoon
doubling contrabassoon
2
Horn
1
Trumpet
1
Trombone
2
Percussion
vibraphone, glockenspiel, crotales, 2 tuned gongs, 2 triangle, suspended cymbal, 2 metal bars, 2 tam-tam
1
Violin
1
Violin II
3
Viola
2
Cello
1
Double bass
1
Harp
1
Piano
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