Project Outline

“Out of the Darkness” is a brand new secular cantata for mezzo-soprano, two cellos and eight voices, written by Julian Marshall. The inspiration for the piece is based on the poem “Aus dem Dunkel” (Out of the Darkness), by Gertrud Kolmar. Kolmar lived in Berlin for much of her life, but was transported to Auschwitz in 1943, where she perished. Her poetry is strikingly full of life – colour, vibrancy, deep sensation – and “Aus dem Dunkel”, is surely one of the most beautiful. Written in 1937 the poem evokes powerful dream like images of crumbling and decay – serving as an eerie foretelling of the imminent tidal wave of horror about to hit the world.

Post-war critics have accorded Gertrud Kolmar a very prominent place in German literature. She has been described as both ‘one of the most important woman poets’ and ‘the greatest lyrical poetess of Jewish descent who has ever lived’. An essay by Philip Kuhn about Gertrud Kolmar is available on the Out of the Darkness website

Also featured on this recording is another world première – a new piece by Gavin Bryars for mezzo-soprano, cello and keyboard. The Island Chapel was commissioned by the Tate Gallery St Ives in 1997, for performance in St. Nicholas Chapel, St. Ives and involves a response to a number of different elements. In the first place there is the chapel itself, a simple, tiny building perched in isolation and overlooking the sea on three sides. Secondly there is the relationship between the chapel and the Tate Gallery across the bay. The music was designed for performance to a small invited audience in this intimate, semi-private space – the chapel is tiny and the maximum audience size was 6 people in addition to the three performers. The text comprises two self-contained poems Crossing no.3 and Crossing no.4 from an extended poem The Manifestations of the Voyage by the Lebanese poet Etel Adnan.

Spiegel im Spiegel, whose title translates as “mirror in the mirror” was written in 1978, and was the last piece Pärt wrote before escaping Soviet rule to live in Europe. The listener is invited utterly to clear his or her mind of all extraneous and unnecessary noise and to focus completely on pure sonority without concerns of emotional trajectory or pictorial representation. Every note is perfectly placed, nothing is unnecessary, and the method – of adding one note at a time to the ‘cello’s alternately rising and falling line is plain to hear. This is some of the purest musical expression ever created and is entirely typical of the style for which Arvo Pärt has become so popular with audiences all over the world.