The Wind at Beni Midar (2000) — Robert Scott Thompson — Avant-garde Classical

Craig Hultgren, violoncello

The Wind at Beni Midar was composed in the early 1983 and was subsequently entirely revised in 1989, and editorially revised in 1998. This work is inspired by the short story of the same title from Paul Bowles’ “A Hundred Camels in the Courtyard.”

This book spans four tales of contemporary life in a land where alternative means are sought as a way out of the phenomenological world. The composition itself strains the notion of the phenomenology of time consciousness, as the materials of the work are largely framed in a moment-form scheme. Cast into two large sections, the 25 minute duration is first characterized by fleeting musical structures which emphasize both sound and silence in equal measure. The second part of the work is continuous in over all sound texture yet freely developing an elaborate morphology.

Scored for six ‘celli, details of timbre and texture owe much to my work in the field of electroacoustic music. The cello is an instrument of remarkable versatility and the use of a sextet provides superb resources of sound.

However, no processing of the sounds of the sextet was done, save the addition of reverberation. All of the sounds and textures are created out of the acoustic instrument.

The other works on this disc are all related to The Wind at Beni Midar in various, elemental ways. Tagmeme (sentence slot: any one of the various positions in the structure of a sentence into which a word or phrase of a particular grammatical type can fit), is based entirely on a single sound fragment of cello that is elongated to express its total duration of nine and one-half minutes. Essay and Light is a Liquid both use ‘cello source materials and The Gramophone (based on the poem of T.S. Eliot) adds computer processed vocal sounds and spoken text to other sound materials derived from cello source recordings.


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