for clarinet and bass clarinet, trumpet and flugelhorn, string orchestra.
SYMBIOSIS is a double-concerto for clarinet (with bass-clarinet), trumpet (with flugelhorn) and string orchestra. I wrote it for the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, and we performed it with them on 18th May 2007 in Budapest. The conductor was Péter Gazda.
The idea behind Symbiosis was the desire to create a major work for Tara Bouman and me, in which we could play as equally important soloists, and combine our different sound colours and playing techniques from classical and contemporary music, jazz and free improvisation.
The piece has 5 movements, and lasts about 32 minutes. I have divided all the string sections except the double-bass – most string orchestras only have one double-bass – so that there are nine string parts altogether. This allows more differentiation in the harmony and voice-leading.
The first movement consists of a fast section in 4/4, and a slow section in 3/4 time. Although the piece begins quasi atonally, with some fast sound layers, tonalities do materialise fairly quickly: E-flat minor, B-flat minor, F minor, C major. The slow section begins again in B-flat minor but modulates several times before ending in C-major.
The second movement is virtuosic. A fast 5/8 time in F minor which at first challenges the strings, and then energetically introduces the soloists. The latter are at first presented individually, then together in a markedly rhythmic passage which changes for a short time to a cunning 3/4 time. The end belongs to the strings again, with a return of the movement’s original motive. Only at the very last moment, do the clarinet and trumpet have a final word.
The third movement, which is completely in 3/4 time, is the most “contemporary”. Sound textures, chromaticism, tonalities in several layers, increased intensities in the solo instruments (for example, fast septuplets in the clarinet), and for the final phase, a free, atonal improvisation by the clarinet and muted trumpet over rhythmic string riffs.
After these intense sound events, the music calms down in the very sensuous fourth movement, which is in Phrygian A-flat minor. The solo violin begins in slow 3/4 time, with a motive which will dominate the whole movement. This motive is at first answered in a dialog with the ’cello, but is later taken over by the bass-clarinet and flugelhorn. The development leads to a tutti of the strings, which “Romantically” harmonises a tender melody. Again the flugelhorn and bass-clarinet have the opportunity to improvise – first singly, then together, culminating in a repeat of the tutti.
In this movement, I wanted to express something which I often miss in “new” music: a clearly warm feeling, which for me can only be expressed in “classical” harmonies.
Finally, the fifth movement plays with the number five. Its key is G minor, but this is used chromatically. The theme lasts five bars in 5/4 time, and appears once in each string section before the bass clarinet and flugelhorn enter with long, held chains of notes. Soon, they play a duet alone – the only time this happens in Symbiosis –, a free improvisation, like a cadenza, which condenses the chromaticism more and more into quarter-tones. The close contact, and the resulting melting of the tones into one another, makes the deeper meaning of Symbiosis clear. While the two soloists eventually end on a G, the orchestra plays the theme for the fifth time, and the piece ends in unison.
Markus Stockhausen, 16/08/2007
in March 2007
Clarinet and Bass Clarinet in B-flat
Trumpet and Flugelhorn in B-flat
Strings 6-6-4-3-1 or 4-4-4-2-1
on May 18th, 2007 in Budapest; with Tara Bouman, Markus Stockhausen and the Franz Liszt Chamner Orchestra conducted by Gazda Péter.
Aktivraum Musikverlag, Köln 2007
The CD “Symbiosis “ has been released in 2008 with Aktivraum: