‘This musical supplication is inspired partly by the playing of world-renowned duduk player Djivan Gasparyan. It is a plea for a balm, a cool wind, to ease anguish and torment.’ – John Psathas, note on the score of A Cool Wind.
The composer writes: ‘In my past experiences collaborating with master folk musicians in Greece, I repeatedly came across the same answer when querying them on their ultimate aim when performing; namely that what they try to do is emulate the human voice, whatever the instrument they happen to be playing (even percussionists!) I think the inspiration behind this concept is one of eliminating the barrier between the impulse and the sound, to remove the instrument from the equation and – in the way of singing – articulate spontaneously. The duduk is one of the most remarkably voice-like instruments I have ever heard, and it is this quality which inspired me when writing.’
‘The title page refers to this piece as a supplication, and this is the best description of the overlapping inner parts that grow out of the opening few measures.’
“The sanskrit equivalent for initiation is abhisheka, meaning ‘sprinkle’, ‘pour’, ‘anointment’. And if there is pouring, there must be a vessel into which the pouring can fall. So at last we might really give up all these complications and just allow some space, just give in. This is the moment when abhisheka – sprinkling and pouring – really takes place, because we are open and are really giving up the whole attempt to do anything, giving up all the busyness and overcrowding. Finally we have been forced to really stop properly, which is quite a rare occurrence for us.”
(Taken from Chogyam Trungpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, from album Nederlands Blazers Ensemble: Zeibekiko, NBECD014).
The composer writes: ”Drafted immediately after reading a book by the Buddhist guru Chögyam Trungpa, Abhisheka was my first-ever attempt at writing music with space in it. Until this piece, practically everything I had written was ultra-caffeinated, fast, full of notes, and murder on performers. But having been (albeit temporarily) inspired by the great truths and peace in Trungpa’s writing, I found myself navigating slower passages of musical time, as well as exploring the microcosm of inner space between the even intervals of our chromatic tuning system.”
Abhisheka by John Psathas was chosen for the list of string quartets in 2000 for ‘IAMIC Sounds of the Year’. The composer has also prepared versions of Abhisheka for mixed chamber ensemble, this version performed by Manos Achalinotopoulos, Vangelis Karipis and Nederlands Blazers Ensemble at Paradiso, in Amsterdam in 2004, and for string orchestra (2008).
Programme note from the New Zealand String Quartet’s 2012 New Zealand at Kings Place concert.
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio and Pierre Boulez have long been in my group of compositional heroes. Not that I have always understood or accepted what they were doing but rather because they opened new vistas of compositional processes.
Stockhausen in particular offered composers new ideas about the way music is structured. His ‘moment’ forms made a deep impression and his early electronic music pieces Gesang der Jünglinge and Kontakte blazed new pathways. They are classics in the music of the twentieth century.
Adieu KS for solo vioklin is my musical way of offering a deep sense of gratitude to Karlheinz Stockhausen. This short hommage nods in the directly of Stockhausen’s early Sonatina for violin and piano and utilises a sequence of pitches from this work. Fragments contrast with continuity, melody with violinistic sounds and movement with stasis.
This short elegy was written for my friend and fellow composer Gerard Crotty who died of cancer in 1988 at the age of 30. I dedicate it to his memory. The work has been recorded by Alexander Ivashkin on two CDs: Chaos of delight: music by Eve de Castro-Robinson, Atoll CD9806, and Under the Southern Cross: works for cello, Ode Manu 1543/4