... in the open distance ... a dreamlike shimmer


Version for trombone and string quartet op. 22k bis a

Premiere: April 2011 in the Vienna Musikverein (Brahms-Saal), played by Ian Bousfield and the Küchl Quartet
Duration: ca. 11 minutes


Version for trombone and string quintet or string orchestra op. 22k bis b

About the piece:

It might have been just an accident that the composer René Staar, during the preparatory work before the realization of this composition for Ian Bousfield (solo trombonist of the Vienna Philharmonic) and the Küchl Quartet came upon a poem written by Gustav Mahler, one included in his letters to Alma. The first line of the poem contains the six words of the title, which appear here however with three dots at the beginning and again in the middle. This should hint at the mystery of the theme that led to the composition of this piece: the theme of love.

It might also be accidental that the composition took form between the two years of Gustav Mahler’s anniversaries: 2010, the 150th anniversary of his birth, and 2011, the 100th anniversary of his death. And it might seem improbable that the composer while working on the piece met in New York his long unseen student colleague, the conductor Daniel Nazareth, and that Nazareth showed Staar songs that he had composed to Mahler’s poems, the third of which was a setting of the same text that occupied Staar.

The questioning that lies behind this piece and builds a connection to the poem fragment - whether love is an illusion or something real - is however no casual matter. Does the chaos of life in the early 21st century disintegrate the traditional ideal of love? Are we capable at all of perceiving love as such and if so, how is this communicated?

A work was thus created that unfolds totally within the world of an individual who from his perspective grasps love as an always fresh experience that rises up out of the chaos of the struggle of life.

Seen from a musical point of view the piece moves in continuously renewing situation blocks towards an expressive slow ending - the angel descends - that expresses the inner content to which the piece has aspired. It is basically a slow homophonic five-part movement which is however already from the beginning disturbed by various situations and only later develops into what it intends to be. The composer has centered not on love itself and its fulfillment but rather on the yearning for that to which the word »love« stands as synonym. It is however also a very personal piece that draws into its calculations failure, disorder, chaos and denial - perhaps also denial of one’s self. It is finally also to be seen as fragment of a larger project, perhaps as slow movement of a future trombone concerto. (René Staar)