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Alberto Posadas — Poética del Espacio

Does space have a poetic dimension itself, or is it created by the experience of that space? In The Poetics of Space (1957) Bachelard rather than answering these questions mulls them over.

The poetic image gives space the property of experience in time. It is not its external magnitude that gives it meaning but rather the fact of inhabiting and experiencing it.

How is space inhabited in a listening process? By the location and positioning of the sonic source? The medium for transmitting the sound? Does it generate new poetic and perceptive relations?

How can space act as driver of a sonic process in time? How can it articulate the musical material and its deployment in time, the distribution of the acoustic space (frequency range), the instrumental density or the speed at which the sound moves?

With Bachelard’s book in mind from the outset, all these questions for exploration provide the point of departure for this cycle, which comprises four pieces linked by four Intermezzi.

Trayectorias proposes the experience of a dynamic space where the work is shaped by the spatial, temporal and frequency displacement of the sound.
Two instrumental groups are placed at opposite ends of the hall, one on the stage and the other at the back, to create a contrast between hearing in front and behind. Each ensemble is in turn divided into three small groups or units to produce a sensation of laterality in the listening (left, centre, right).
Movement of the sound becomes a primordial subject of the work, designing different trajectories: zigzag, star shapes, journeys in symmetrical circles, spirals, front-to-back ...
However, the perception of movement is not determined just by the location of the sound source, but by the speed of displacement, and its connecting mechanisms. Various systems of temporal articulation, expanding, compressing, accelerating and slowing, have been linked to those displacements. The musical material and the distribution of densities and pitches frequently act as connectors between the various sound locations or, exceptionally, as a disruptive element.
To paraphrase Bachelard, in Trayectorias perception of the movement of the sound engraves the hierarchy of the various functions for inhabiting the space.

The title Ers comes from the Indo-European root meaning “to be in movement”. The work alternates solid sonic blocks with spatial movements of fragile, volatile materials. In the first of these, the two instrumental groups unite to form clusters of different amplitudes which are compressed to focus on two notes from which a new harmony is projected by frequency modulation. On the other hand, lightweight, vague, fleeting materials, constantly internally mobile, are propagated from the violin at the back of the hall to the rest of the strings on the stage. This propagation stands midway between dialectic relation, mimesis or the contagion of instruments and materials. The strings are enveloped by the other instruments, creating a chamber mesh which moves permanently in space.

Umbrales evanescentes is a concertante work for saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone and ensemble, in which the internal space of the solo instruments is modified using instrumental hybridisation processes. The poetic dimension of space is impregnated with the microscopic and mutant world created by such hybridisation and the diverse sonic resources emanating from it. These in turn are expanded spatially by the instruments in the ensemble, dissolving the thresholds, the borders traditionally established by the concerto genre between the soloist and tutti, since the material flows and is projected among them without any dialectical relationship.

This work from the cycle, in which all the musicians play on stage for the first time, focuses more on the internal magnitude of the instrumental space, providing a counterpoint to those preceding it whose dramaturgy is shaped by the spatial movement of the sound and the performers.

Ojo del Diablo is one of the names initially given to black holes. If in Umbrales evanescentes the driving idea is based on the instruments’ internal acoustic space, in this score it comes from the outer space of the universe. Black holes bear a powerful poetic charge, frequently arising from sensing something we do not know. Moreover, phenomena arise in and around these holes that we assume are experienced differently by those who approach them and who observe them from a certain distance. The poetic they create is the upshot of the experience sensed.

Phenomena like the slowing of the object until it freezes at the so-called “event horizon”, its elongation until breaking in what is known as “spaghettification”, convergence to a point in the “singularity” or the modification of the black hole by Hawking’s quantum radiation fluctuations, are some of the “poetic driving forces” that have been used to mould time, musical material or pitch in many parts of the work.

Also, throughout the cycle, the stage is converted metaphorically into a “black hole” implacably drawing in all the instruments gravitating around it and, eventually, presenting the whole ensemble as a “large concentration of mass”.

Four Intermezzi, of different instrumental makeup, are interpolated between the works in the cycle, acting as nexus, as recall, as anticipation; but, above all, creating a dramaturgy of the physical exploration of space as the performers inexorably converge upon the stage.

—Martino Traversa, 2019

 in Werke
19 October 2019
11.00 a.m.
Donaueschingen, Donauhallen Donaueschinger Musiktage Poética del Espacio

Alberto Posadas calls his full-length cycle for ensemble "Poetry of Space". Looking at the book of the same name by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, Posadas asks how we experience space when we listen to music, when we co-inhabit space together with sound. (Donaueschinger Musiktage)

Alberto Posadas — Trayectorias
    — Intermezzo I
    — Ers
    — Intermezzo II
    — Intermezzo III
    — Umbrales evanescentes
    — Intermezzo IV
    — Ojo del diablo

Gerald Preinfalk, saxophone
Christoph Walder, horn
Anders Nyqvist, trumpet
Mikael Rudolfsson, trombone
conductor: Sylvain Cambreling

All compositions are part of the cycle "Poética del espacio".

Commissioned by Acht Brücken – Musik für Köln, Wien Modern, Collegium Novum Zürich and the SWR.

With the kind support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

8 November 2019
7.30 p.m.
Vienna, Wiener Konzerthaus, Great Hall Kraftraum Yardsticks EA

From a large store of memories, in cupboards and drawers, all the way to the smallest miniature. The large contained in the small; the small contained in the large. Here, sound releases a new poetics of spatial perception.

Alberto Posadas — Poética del espacio Austrian premiere

Gerald Preinfalk, saxophone
Christoph Walder, horn
Anders Nyqvist, trumpet
Mikael Rudolfsson, trombone
conductor: Sylvain Cambreling

In cooperation with Wien Modern.

Before the concert:
In the Ears of the Others or: how musicians listen to this, 6.30 p.m.

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