Artjom Kim – Lontano
Frangiz Ali-Zade – Zikr
Stefano Bellon – Vocativo
Jack Body – Palaran: Poems of Love and War
Jia Daqun – Fusion I
Evrim Demirel – Four Folk Songs from Anatolia
Javanshir Guliev – Bayati
Faradj Karajev – Babylonturm
Bun-Ching Lam – Atlas
Theo Loevendie – Seyir
Fabio Nieder – The Waters flow on their Way
Guo Wenjing – Buddhist Temple

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh - Zikr
ZIKR bedeutet in der Übersetzung aus dem Farsischen: Gedenken, Erinnerung. Im Ritual der Sufis (islamische Mystiker) wurden zu Musikbegleitung einige Strophen aus Gedichten oder aus dem Koran wie heilige Beschwörungsformeln gesungen, durch deren Wiederholungen die Sufis bei allergrößter Konzentration ihrer Emotionen und Gedanken zur geheimen und göttlichen Wahrheit gelangten.
In dem Stück für das Atlas Ensemble wird ein Text des mittelalterlichen Sufi-Dichters Imadeddin Nasimi (1360-1417) verwendet. In diesem Text bringt der Dichter die Überlegenheit der Intuition und der inneren Erleuchtung gegenüber der rationalen Vernunft zum Ausdruck.

Frangiz Ali-Zade

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Der gesungene Text (original: Farsi) lautet:

Mni mn’ etm, ey zahid
Güvnma Zikr, ey Sufi
ki, Sn magrurin Zikr
Mnm müs¸tag dida

Glaube nicht, o Denker, dass ich nur ich sei.
Vertraue nicht dem eigenen Verstand, o Sufi!
Ihr seid Gefangene eures Denkens,
ich aber schwebe im freien Raum meiner eigenen Erleuchtung.

Stefano Bellon – Vocativo
Vocativo è il titolo di una raccolta di Andrea Zanzotto. La poesia di Zanzotto è, al pari di tutta la grande poesia, musicalissima, ma mi sembra imponga con più forza rispetto ad altre un suo ritmo e forse anche una propria velocità di scorrimento. Troppi vincoli, volendo metterla in musica: quasi musicare una musica. Per questa ragione ho preferito ricavarne degli estratti – omogenei per temperatura e umore – assicurandomi una maggior libertà di trattamento del testo.

Il vocativo è il caso grammaticale, comune a molte delle lingue indoeuropee, che esprime ‘vocazione’ chiamata. Spesso, non solo in poesia, invocazione. In italiano, si tratta forse del caso più musicale perchè si può esprimere anche con la sola intonazione della voce. La voce, per esprimere il caso vocativo, deve farsi forse più umile. E per invocare, deve farsi quasi preghiera. Ecco, questo tratto forte della chiamata, l’invocazione, credo sia il nucleo da cui è germogliato l’attaccamento per i frammenti di Zanzotto su cui si è fissata la mia immaginazione. Suppongo sia anche per queste ragioni che l’andamento vocale ha finito per evocare la melopea dell’intonazione salmodica.

Il testo di Zanzotto è amaro ed esplicito: si, il dolore, certo; la vita non vissuta, spesso se non nel terrore e scivolata via dalle dita in questo modo; si, questo e tutto il resto, eccetra. Si, tutto questo e di più ancora.
Ma, le ultime parole recitano: ... la vite inclinarsi disossata, sventurata, sulle case e l'uva chiudere il vento e il giorno. La vite e l’uva. Un’ uva che viene da una vite che si accascia stanca, in rovina, sulle case. L’uva di una vite sventurata, certo, eppure uva, nella sera di una brutta vita.
In italiano, curiosamente, le parole quasi coincidono: vite – vita.
Ecco. Fin qui, la voce di un’esperienza privatissima e intima dell’ esistenza.

Ma c’è dell'altro, adesso.
Adesso c'è che Vocativo mi è stato commissionato dall’Atlas Ensemble, un orchestra che riunisce donne e uomini che vengono da paesi molto lontani per cultura, ambiente, credo religioso e tradizione musicale. I sermoni pacifisti in genere mi lasciano perplesso e talvolta mi annoiano: qui mi contraddirò – me ne scuso molto – ma in questi momento, mentre scrivo queste righe, circolano foto terribili che ci dicono di una guerra totalmente idiota e criminale. Idiota e criminale. Nient’altro.
Va bene, il mondo va così, vero.
Qui però, nel luogo circoscritto di questa orchestra quasi utopica, la ricerca di una bellezza comune e condivisibile riunisce musicisti provenienti da ogni angolo del mondo per coltivare il sogno di una musica, e perciò di bene, in un dialogo intenso e fertile, lucido, profondo.
Ecco. Almeno questo. Almeno un sogno: un poco, ci placa, ci quieta, sognarlo con altri. Un’uva nella sera, dopo la tempesta del giorno. Almeno questo.

Stefano Bellon

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Andra Zanzotto – Vocativo (fragments)

Anni perduti sotto la rotta vampa
pomeridiana dei cicloni,
anni dove l'attesa mi dissolse
dove (...) il ritorno invocai...
là, dietro la mia vita...

....esule il cuore, dentro il regno vuoto
brancolo, è tardi, e monte io muto a monte
e ottuso mostro
in un prima capovolto
il futuro diviene... dietro la mia vita...
per il deluso autunno,
per gli scolorenti boschi
vado apparendo...

...vedo felci avanzare nelle nere correnti,
..tra vaganti inferni...
e la vite inclinarsi disossata
sventurata sulle case, e l'uva
chiudere il vento e il giorno...

Jack Body – Palaran: Poems of Love and War
Among the many subtleties that can be found within gamelan music, I have always been struck by the exquisite rhythmic dichotomy between the main body of instruments and the upper layering of solo vocalist, flute and rebab fiddle – the one being rooted in regularity while the others soar above, with the apparent weightlessness of birds. Generally these ‘refined soloists’ must judge their tempi carefully to arrive at the frequent cadence points at the same time as the larger group of instruments which carries the main melody. But in the palaran style it is the vocal soloist who sets the pace – accompanied by only the lower instruments, the voice has free reign. Even though the kenong, kempul and gong set up a steady, uninterrupted pulsation, their movement from one pitch to another is controlled by the whimsy of the singer.

The poetic forms of Javanese music, of which there are twelve basic types, each has a cluster of specific emotional associations, much like Indian rag, or Arabic makam. Melodically these forms are capable of infinite variation; even the distinction between the basic pelog and slendro modes can be blurred with the use of expressive ‘bending’ of the pitches (miring). The poetry itself is often formalistic, filled with allusion and metaphor, and therefore resistant to simple translation. The texts chosen here are drawn from tradition, and juxtapose images of love and pity with those of forcefulness and aggression. I am grateful to Budi for his guidance in selecting the texts and to Yono for their translation.
Jack Body

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Palaran: Poems of Love and War

1. Durma Palaran Suragreged Sl Sanga miring
The eagle Jathayu attacks the king Rawana in an attempt to rescue Sita, who is being been abducted.

nDedel sigra Janthayu niyub amapag
Rawana dèn ungkuli
sinamber kinepyak
pinatuk baunira
patuk kapeteg trus maring
lambungé bencah
muncar ludira mijil.

Immediately Jathayu glides, charging, high in the sky
Rawana is overshadowed, then fiercely
struck, slapped,
stabbed on the shoulders
grabbed and pulled,
his abdomen is then torn open,
spurting blood.

2. Megatruh Pl Barang
King Gunawan, departing for a battle, farewells his loved one.

Sira Prabu Gunawan manembah nuhun
wong agung ngandika malih
yayi yèn ingsun tan ayun
kang sawènèh ana angling
mbésuk ing palastraning ngong/sun.

His Majesty Gunawan greets her
and repeats
‘My dear if I do not survive
this battle you will meet me
again in after-life.’

3. Mijil – Gagadwaspa Sl Sanga miring
Correct behaviour means fighting hypocrisy

Nistha iku tindak walangati
saliring pakéwuh
iya béla-béla ing ciptané
mring santana myang punggawa mantri
anggung gangga runggi
andhedher pakéwuh

Betrayal is contrary to the heart
all those shameless deeds
hiding the truth
from both the soldiers and the commandant
stating what is not true
sowing seeds of disrespect.

4. Pangkur Gagad Kasmaran Pl. Nem
Love sickness

Tat kala prihatin dahat,
awit bangun malah sadinten malih,
ing mangkya wimbuh sadalu,
gagat bangun rahina,
prapta angin silir-silir mawa ebun,
kadya luhing wengi milya,
nangisi sang kenèng wingit.

A time of unbearable sadness,
from waking up until the day ends,
followed by yet another day,
and the day that follows will start with a force,
accompanied by a dewy breeze
just like the tears of the night,
crying for the one who bears the sadness.

5. Sendhon Kagok Ketaton uran-uranipun Semar ing Gara-gara Sl Manyura
The clown Semar, a god of the Pandawa in the Javanese tradition, sings a comic interlude, although his words are deliberately cryptic and mysterious.

Duh duh duh, ao ao
duh yana sun anembang ilir bumbung tébok kang dèn anam arang
babo babo duh yana kirag kirig kaya di semprong bokongé

Oh my, my, ao ao
oh my soul, I’m singing a ‘bamboo fan’, a sparsely woven tray
yes, oh yes, oh my soul, fidgety, as if your back-side has been torched

O, ao ao
duh yana tikus langu trembalo kang sobèng longan
babo babo duh yana calurutan kaya nggoléki bédangé.

Oh, ao ao
oh my soul, smelly mice are rodents that frequent the space under the bed
yes, oh yes, oh my soul, running around as if searching for your lover

(translations by Yono Soekarno)

Jia Daqun – Fusion I for Mixed Chamber Ensemble
Using different typical musical instruments of various regions, this production realized the crossed contraposition between rigorous text performances and improvisation and achieved the reciprocity between exact control and haphazard, consequently tried to build a sort of new musical pattern and to present the harmonization of multiform cultures.

Jia Daqun

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Evrim Demirel – Four Folk Songs from Anatolia
In Turkish music melody is the most important element, which is supported by a wide variety of rhythmic structures. Asymmetry in melodies is one of the most appealing aspects in this music; related to the fact that it comes from improvisation. Ornamented phrasings provide the genuine sound of Turkish music. One can hear these ornamentations through the non-tempered Turkish scale system in singing and in playing. Undoubtly folk songs have a unique place in rich Turkish music culture. Orchestrating Turkish folk songs has always been one of my dreams since I started composing. Actually, ‘orchestrating’ does not exactly describe what has been done in this work. It is more appropriate to say that this piece has been composed based on four Turkish folk songs. My intention was to bring another dimension to these folk songs without sacrificing their identity and pure beauty. The Atlas Ensemble provided me a wide variety of options to associate Makams and a different sound world into this piece. Microtonal possibilities and the particular sound of the Atlas Ensemble gave me the opportunity to realize my own connection between Turkish and western music.  As a result, Four Folksongs from Anatolia realises the dream of three musicians, Oya Ergün, who has a charming interpretation on Turkish folksongs, Joël Bons, the artistic director and the founder of Atlas Ensemble and myself, as the composer.
The songs which I used are

1. Yagmur Yagar (from Kütahya)
2. Yayla Yollarinda Yürüyüp Gelir (from Burdur)
3. Ferai (from Mugla)
4. Batum (from Sinop)

Evrim Demirel

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Javanshir Guliev - Bayati
for female khanende singer, soprano and large ensemble (2004)
Bayati is a form of folk quatrain with rhymes on first, second and fourth lines and a lot of homonyms and assonances. Four bayaties are collocated along an imaginary dramaturgical plot – a sort of another ‘Frauenliebe und –leben’. All music is original composition, though the ‘songs’ are deliberately stylized under folk prototypes.

Javanshir Gulijev

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Faradj Karajev – Babylonturm
Der Titel von meinem Stück ist Babylonturm. Dass ist 14 Variationen über eine Note ‘re’. In der Variationen improvisieren die Solisten (nur Ostinstrumenten) in ‘d-D’-Reihe manchmal Solo, manchmal wie Duo, manchmal auch wie Quartett - Sechstet, die Westinstrumenten begleiten - oder stören!!! - diese Improvisationen. Die Hauptidee vom Werk – ein Symbol vom Weltchaos. Im Koda tönt Choral ‘Am Flüssen Babylon’ (N137), der eine Relativverkärung symolisiert. Aber später klingende die Duoimprovisation von Tar und Kamancha (Azerb) hinterlasst die Forme vom Stück geoeffnet.

Faradj Karajev

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Artjom Kim – Lontano
One of the principles in Uzbek musik (as well as in many other musical cultures) is a spiral’ principle. Musical elements continually rotate in a circle, invariably returning up to the beginning. Each new joining element extends this movement and a circle turnes into spiral. For me it was interesting to use this principle not only in folk’ part of the score (where I used the melody Tarona from Dugoh makom) but also in it’s ‘contemporary’ part. The human voice is invisibly and inaudibly present in the piece, but only at the end we can hear it in reality. This idea gave the title to the work.

Artjom Kim

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Bun-ching Lam – Atlas
Atlas uses the idea of an oriental carpet as a point of departure. It contains repetitive elements analogous to the border pattern, then evolves into a centerpiece which makes up the main section of the work. Much of the musical material consists of melodic fragments, similar to Gushe, a Persian melodic type, literally meaning corner, part, and angle. Attracted by the name of this ensemble, I picture this piece as an imaginary musical atlas, moving through the many lands where all the instruments come from.

The major challenge for me in composing this work is to find an appropriate musical context for all the instruments of Central Asia, Europe and China to co-exist, without compromising their own individual identities. At first, they seem to be in a foreign territory, playing music that is not familiar; gradually they reveal their own ‘ethnic’ characteristics. As the piece progresses, they seek to find a common ground, a common language, and harmony. For a moment, they seem to have arrived at the goal only to drift off again into silence.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to compose this piece, which is dedicated to my friend Juliette Moran, whose enthusiasm to life has been an inspiration for me. She always says: ‘We are all from the same genetic pool, there is only one race, the human race.’ I had this sentence in mind all through the months while I was working on this composition. Even though all the instruments seem to have their own national characteristics, they all stem from the same source. It’s fascinating to me how Ud became lute in Europe, Pipa in China and Biwa in Japan. Maybe one day all nations will co-exist in peace, just like in our little musical world, with all the musicians from different countries playing happily together.

Bun-ching Lam

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Theo Loevendie – Seyir
Der Begriff Seyir steht in der ottomanischen Kunstmusik für die Kontur, der eine Melodie oder Improvisation in einem bestimmten Makam (Modus) entsprechen muss. Der Begrifffindet an dieser Stelle als Titel Verwendung, da sämtliche im Stück vorkommenden melodischen Themen von ein und derselben Kontur abgeleitet werden, wodurch sowohlmodale als auch pentatonische und chromatische Erscheinungsformen entstehen. Rhythmisch gesehen ist Seyir eine Konfrontation zwischen additiven Rhythmen (wie sie im Mittleren Osten vorkommen; hier 11/8 und 7/8) und einer mehr afrikanisch orientier-ten durchgängigen polyrhythmischen Struktur. Vom Klang her reflektiert das Stück mitunter die Musik der Kulturen des Mittleren und Fernen Ostens, doch seine kompositorische Konsistenz und seine Technik machen es zu einer typisch europäischen künstlerischen Äußerung unserer Zeit. Das an der Ober-fläche Reminiszenzen an andere Kulturen wahrnehmbar werden, liegt nicht nur an der Verwendung nicht-europäischer Instrumente und der Art und Weise, wie diese durch die Musiker des Atlas Ensembles gespielt werden. Es ist auch meine Absicht als europäischer Komponist gewesen, mich, ausgehend von Gefühlen der Liebe und des Respekts für die außerhalb Europas bestehenden, großen Musiktraditionen, an anderen Kulturen zu orientieren.

Theo Loevendie

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Fabio Nieder – The Waters flow on their Way
The Waters flow on their Way wurde als Auftragskomposition für das Atlas Ensemble geschrieben. Die Besetzung für diese Komposition besteht aus Instrumenten unterschiedlicher Herkunft wie China, Armenien, Aserbaidschan und der Türkei. Ich habe auch die menschliche Stimme einer Frau verwendet. Die instrumentalen Kombinationen und die Klangmischungen berücksichtigen aber kaum die ursprünglichen Nationalitäten dieser Instrumente, sie ergeben sich vielmehr daraus, dass die verschiedenen Klangfarben manchmal frappierende Affinitäten zueinander aufweisen. Die weibliche Stimme selbst hat keine eindeutige Integrität; sie stellt die Summe vier schizophrener, voneinander getrennter Stimmpersönlichkeiten dar: 1. die verkrampfte Grimasse eines surrealen Weinens („I Cry“); 2. das einsame Auftauchen von quasi gesprochenen einsilbigen Worten („I wish I could melt etc“); 3. ein plötzliches Aufblitzen von „Bel Canto“-Koloraturgesten; 4. das „Für-sich, in-sich-Singen“ des Abgesanges („the tender blossom is gone“).
Dieser Komposition liegt ein 7-töniger Komplex zugrunde, der wie ein kleines Sonnensystem aussieht: 6 „Planeten“-Töne rotieren um eine unbewegliche „Sonne“, die einem „atmenden“ B entspricht. Die ständige Permutation dieser Töne um ihr Zentrum ergeben 6 wechselnde Tongebilde, die die erste „Strophe“ dieses Werkes darstellen. In der zweiten „Strophe“, die 7 Tongebilde hat, prallen die „Planet-Töne“ nacheinander zusammen, bis sie alle gleichzeitig aufeinanderstoßen. Während sie sich auf einer Achse vertikal annullieren (ganz wie in einer Sonnenfinsternis), entspringt innerhalb dieses Ton-komplexes die Projektion – Ossia, die Umkehrung – der Original-Tonhöhenkonstellation. Die weibliche Stimme und die chinesiche Okarina Xun übernehmen diese neugeborene Figur, die sich dann in einem gravitationslosen Raum verliert. Dieser Abgesang entfaltet sich, 5 Tongebilde formend.
Jeder „Planet-Ton“ stellt den Kern eines Klangobjektes dar, das stark durch seine spezi-fische Klangfarbe gekennzeichnet ist. Wir wollen jetzt den ersten 7-tönigen Komplex beobachten: das F und das E sind zwei von der weiblichen Stimme „bewohnte“ „Planet-Töne"; das C wird von dem arme-nischen Duduk geprägt; die zentrale B-„Sonne“ pulsiert immer wie ein Herz und wird von atmenden Akkorden der beiden chinesischen Mundorgeln Sheng, der Streicher und der chinesischen Laute Pipa profiliert; das H gerät ins Stocken durch den unerbittlichen Schlag der Schlitztrommel mit einer breitvibrierenden Resonanz des chinesischen Zupf-instrumentes Sheng; das G und das Cis sind der türkischen Flöte Ney eigen, wobei das Cis immer den Bassflötenschatten eines Multiphonics wirft. Die so gestalteten Klang-obiekte
kehren immer mit ihren spezifischen Eigenschaften wieder, zeigen aber bei jeder Wiederkehr neue Aspekte ihrer Persönlichkeiten. Dennoch sind sie immer deutlich er-kennbar. Ein elektrischer Horizont der indischen Tabla mit pulsierenden „Kräuselungen“ des mittelöstlichen Hackbretts Santur verbindet die am Anfang weit voneinander getrennten „Planet-Töne“. Die Klangobjekte nähern sich einander und koagulieren bis der dazwischenliegende Horizont unsichtbar wird. Die ganze Makrostruktur ähnelt einer Barform.

Fabio Nieder

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I cry, the tender blossom is gone
traditional song from Azerbeidzjan)

I wish I could melt,
turn into water, to be one with rivers’ huge waves,
go upstream to the source of the rivers.
(traditional song from uit Armenië)

Guo Wenjing – Buddhist Temple
In my view, the family of musical instruments somewhat resembles human society. Different groups of people, who maintain different kinds of kinships and relations form different kinds of families, clans or communities. What the Atlas Ensemble is doing at present may well be viewed as a kind of mixed marriage. Generally speaking, this is a laudable undertaking. Family, marriage, in fact any social relationship, will succeed if it meets the following two requirements: 1) that the partners in this undertaking are birds of a feather, equal in weight, and fully able to take care of one another; 2) that one half of the partnership serves the other half and, through sacrifice, helps it to realize its aims. While I was composing for the Atlas Ensemble, I hoped to acchieve this ideal kind of balance, in which everyone acts as equals and reveal their individual talents. But this was very difficult to achieve. Instead, I created an unequal ‘society’. Normally, when heard in their own native environment, some of the instruments from the Middle East in the Atlas Ensemble will be able to shine and triumph in full vigour and brilliance. I am now afraid I was not able to realize this: when I look at my score they look like nothing but timid servants. This is partly due to the fact that my only aquaintance with these instruments was via video images; secondly, to marry a bird to a fish is indeed a slightly problematic undertaking! Nevertheless, if you do have such aspirations, you must be an uncommon bird and fish. At this moment I feel exactly like I did twenty-five years ago, while waiting for an ensemble to rehearse and play a work of mine for the first time in my life - uneasy and restless, as I have no idea what kind of frightening sounds the ensemble is going to produce, that will make my face turn red all over!

Guo Wenjing

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