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When the wind blows

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When the wind blows

Published by Edition Wilhelm Hansen

Written for Catherine Laws and first performed by her at Peninsula Arts, Plymouth, 18th March 2009

The piece uses musical toys (11 different sounds), 3 matchbox cars, and audio playback.

When the wind blows is a cut-up of the first movement of Webern’s Piano Variations, op. 27 (1936), with added clusters and toys. The electronic toys may be placed on the top of the piano and performed manually, as in Catherine Laws’ interpretation, or placed more visibly for the audience and wired up to an additional MIDI-keyboard, as in Ernst Surberg’s interpretation. In the manual version, the arm-choreography is a major feature of the piece, whilst in the wired version, control over the toys is more hidden from view. The pianist may bring to the performance of When the wind blows his or her own response to the interpretative reception of Webern in the 21st century, and to my use of Webern’s work as sound material here.

When the wind blows is dedicated to my son Magnus; I wrote the piece during our first months after moving to Berlin.

REVIEWS:

Like all his works, Anton Webern’s piano variations are a musical concentrate – brief and intense. Webern’s variations are source of inspiration for Juliana Hodkinson’s When the Wind Blows. Hodkinson has delved deep into Webern’s work, taken it apart and put it together again. This result is a whole new work, scored for piano, percussion, toys (11 different sounds), 3 matchbox cars and audio playback.

REVIEW of performance by Catherine Laws at Orpheus Institute, Ghent: Paco Yáñez

Justo a continuación, pudimos escuchar una obra que, aunque pueda parecer increíble, bebe de las mismas fuentes musicales que las celebérrimas Variationen Opus 27. Se trata de When the Wind Blows (2009), de la compositora Juliana Hodkinson (Exeter, 1971). Tomando el primer movimiento de la obra weberniana -‘Sehr mässig’-, Hodkinson intercala diferentes secciones desarrolladas por ella misma con el objeto de producir una nueva klangfarbenmelodie a través de modos de ataque diversos y utilizando toda una serie de juguetes que despliega en torno al teclado. De este modo, Catherine Laws, que nos brindara el primer día de este festival un intenso y faulkneriano Feldman, nos ofrece ahora el ‘reestreno’ de una obra que ella misma ha trabajado con la compositora, y en la que alterna lo extremadamente serio con lo jovial, cuestionándose -de un modo casi cageiano- los límites entre ambos mundos, las posibilidades del juego en la música. Así, al muy estructural y circunspecto mundo weberniano añade clusters con todo el antebrazo, pasajes fonéticos y la activación de los jueguetes con todo su mundo sonoro de bocinas, chasquidos, melodías infantiles, disparos, ráfagas, etc. Son voces que ejercen de dispositivos ‘ad hoc’ y contrapunto ‘jovial’, de cuestionamiento profundo del sonido y sus asociaciones culturales. Todo un contraste extremo, así como un nuevo elemento para la polémica, para el debate de lo ‘lícito’ en el lenguaje musical.
Paco Yáñez

Year: 
2009
Duration: 
4 minutes
No. of musicians: 
1
with electronics