Suite in seven parts for clarinet and string quartet
For the Bennewitz Quartet and Harry-Imre Dijkstra
The “Super Suite” materialized very gradually between February, 2015 and September, 2016. The [Bennewitz Quartet](http://www.bennewitzquartet.com) and Harry-Imre Dijkstra asked for a piece consisting of seven short movements that, apart from their own fixed order, might also be programmed separately or in other combinations. I decided to match that wonderful number 7 with the musical starting point of chants from the great Western religious traditions. Each piece is based on, or fantasized ‘over’ (hence ‘super’) an early religious and liturgical melody: a Gregorian hymn or its Protestant counterpart (such as especially Luther so marvelously wrought) or an original early Protestant liturgical song.
My aim was no other than to learn how to make new, instrumental beauty spring from these early vocal gems, whose calm, well-worn beauty history has subsequently enriched with even more meanings.
In view of their liturgical provenance and religious texts, it is tempting to envision such melodies as being adorned with serene aureoles and the resonances of churches and cathedrals.
Yet their spirituality, like their maker’s worlds, also consisted and still also consists of struggle, anger, despair and awe, as much as of love, longing and desire. I am not sure humor would have been be part of it.Dancing probably would not, and yet I have styled each movement of this ‘suite’ (which used to be, after all, a sequence of dances) into particular ‘dance patterns’ that range from passacaglia to klezmer, in order to keep the spiritual starting point intimately welded with the vagaries of everyday life.
Should you know any of the original chants (being a good Catholic or Protestant, or simply a music lover): do not flinch. With my fingertips lovingly caressing the lines of these melodies, I very freely conjectured about their diverse relationships and about what lies in the depths between the highly antithetical images they conjured up in my mind.
The recording below was made at a private world première, sponsored by music lovers Richard van Remmen and Els van Liebergen, Deventer september 2016.
Recording by Laurens Beijer.