O DIA DEPOIS DA CHUVA
DER TAG NACH DEM REGEN
LE JOUR APRÈS LA PLUIE
ДЕНЬ ПОСЛЕ ДОЖДЯ

Original Portuguese Text: Fernando Pessoa
English version: Richard Zenith
German version: edited by the composer following translations by Inés Koebel and Georg Rudolf Lind
French version: Françoise Laye
Russian version: Natalia Gruendler

For speaker, violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, accordion, and piano
Premiere: Dezember 2006 in Tokyo
Austrian Premiere: January 16, 2007 in the Arnold Schönberg Center
Duration: ca. 26 minutes

 

Artists, either individually or collectively, as symbols for man and humanity, as well as the tension between the individual and mass society have always interested the composer René Staar. His first large-scale work (Just an Accident? op. 9, on a text by the US journalist Alan Levy) dealt with the absurd deaths of the most diverse individuals, most of whom were artists.

The Day after the Rain was written in 2006 and is a music running parallel to the reading of two fragments from the Book of Unrest by the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935). The first fragment, #191, deals with the position of the contemporary artist in an often hostile or at least uncomprehending society. The second, #152, expresses the artist’s sadness over the incompatibility between the striving for perfection and the actual realization of a work of art.

 »Satiety« is one of Pessoa’s favorite words and has become one of the symptoms of life in Western societies: too much of everything. Desolation and exhaustion spread within a society rich in material goods.

The continual conflict, the continual fluctuation between an individual’s inner life and the world that surrounds him, not only that of society but also that of nature, the scents and sounds of the city and of nature: these are what shape the entries in this Book of Unrest. Self-examination to the point of excess, with all its errors, lies, impressions, and distortions of perception, but also reactions to the tiniest events keep us trapped in this labyrinth, here called humanity. Bernardo Soares (one of Pessoa’s pseudonyms and author of these notes) dissects himself with scientific exactitude up to the point of capitulation.

The solitude of the individually thinking person, with all its contradictions and yearning for liberation, is maintained through the self-assigned destruction of even the smallest signs of illusions or false feelings, as well as through a high moral dictate, even though faith and morality in the conventional sense—as a taught pattern of behavior—are avoided.

Pessoa’s Book of Unrest is not a text that would be easy to realize in music. One can neither illustrate nor interpret it musically, and it can certainly not be set to music in the traditional sense. One can only search for a way to express the text through associations and analogies and establish a musical structure that operates alongside the text. The speaker can thus choose one of five languages in which the texts can be spoken parallel to the music.            

The text is recited freely in some sections, while the musical substance is characterized by a harmonic development which, functioning like a never-ending book with seemingly infinite entries, resembles the Book of Unrest. The composer's choice for his piece of only two out of the more than five hundred fragments that comprise the Book of Unrest is reflected in the harmonic substance of the piece, which is made up of two pairs of different five-note chords, whose inversions, transpositions, and placement develop the cause and effect of this book.

The piece is divided on the one hand by the differences between the two pairs of chords, and on the other by the solo sections of different instruments inserted between the pairs of chords.

The irrationality of the music’s rhythmic and formal progress corresponds to the irrationality of life, and to the development of art and of individual expression as results of accidentally supportive or hindering conditions in a world where the artist must, as characterized by Pessoa in his entries, face the ice-cold wind of ignorance that blows ever more strongly in his face. Putative points of emphasis and breaks are only precarious handles within the changeable and continually changing groundwork, always demanding new orientation and new adjustment.

Music, however, is not literature, and therefore this composition is above all a work of searching—not primarily the search for acceptance or understanding, as these are perhaps superficially evoked in Pessoa’s texts, but rather the search for oneself, the meaning of art, perhaps also the relationship between text and sound. This piece, therefore, provides no answers, but rather poses multiple questions: questions about the secret of creativity, of ideas, and of the mysterious mirror figure that, in a moment of whimsical curiosity, suggested to the composer the title of the piece …