Paul Alan Barker, Composer

Chamber Music Theatre

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NATYA
A Concerto for Piano and Strings#or Piano and Striing Quintet

 NATYA is a slow and quiet piece of music which lasts a little under 13 minutes. NATYA is a score
which requires to be performed in front of an audience and some indications of this are in the score.

The Natya Shastra is an ancient Indian treatise on theatre, dance and music. We may learn there
that peace has to be practised. Peace is not a state of inertia and inaction but one which awareness and
consideration might replace reaction and opinion. The peace I found in the music is neither melancholic
nor ecstatic; it is, however, extremely affirmative.

This concerto demands much of its performers but not in the traditional concept of virtuosity,
but rather in understanding its essential spiritual nature. The apparent simplicity of the piano part
demands individual consideration for each note exposed: rarely do two notes occur simultaneously
except for special effect, rather each has its own place.

The dynamic and rhythmic challenges include how to negotiate a tempo that starts slow at 48 beats
per minute, then slows down through 32, and then further to 22 before a final ralentando into silence.

It may be performed by solo pianist with either a string quintet or a small string orchestra.
An ideal performance would include a dance performance, to reflect its theme.

It was composed in Akumal, Mexico during August 2014.


 

NATYA is a very slow and quiet piece of music. It lasts a little under 13 minutes, but will require a very different attention than most listening experiences on the web.
Moreover, this recording is not of a real performance, but one manufactured with fairly limited access to sound synthesis. NATYA is a score which needs to be performed in front of an audience, rather than on headphones.
I have done everything I can to dissuade you from listening, but if you insist…here are the Programme Notes:
The Natya Shastra is an ancient Indian treatise on theatre, dance and music. We learn from those who know that peace has to be practised. It is not a state of inertia and inaction but one which awareness and consideration might replace reaction and opinion. The peace I sought for is neither melancholic nor ecstatic; it is, however, extremely positive.
This concerto demands much of its performers but not in the traditional concept of virtuosity. The apparent simplicity of the piano part demands individual consideration for each note exposed. Rarely do two notes occur simultaneously except for special effect, rather each has its own place. The dynamic and rhythmic challenges include how to negotiate a tempo that starts slow at 48 beats per minute, then slows down through 32, and then to 22 before a final ralentando.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In Memoriam: for those who fall in time of war
Songs for St Vitus
The Wall
Death & Transformation
Stone Song; Stone Dance
Viewing the Instruments: Risk = 1%
The Pied Piper of Hamelin.

PB/brodsky.jpg
Jacqueline Thomas of Brodsy Quartet:
In Memoriam: for those who fall in time of war, 2004

• In a powerful lament for moving targets - in every sense of the word - the Brodsky Quartet presented the highlight of their programme, composer Paul Barker's In Memoriam: For Those Who Fall in Times of War , in St Nicholas's Church. Joined by clarinettist Joan Enric Lluna, the quartet presented a poignant piece of music dedicated to the Sarajevo String Quartet, which was designed, in the composer's words, to propose "reflection instead of reaction".

Composed in 2003 in response to the prospect of a superpower again waging war for murky reasons, the four-movement piece elicited tremendous playing by the quartet, who pushed at the edges of possible sound from their instruments to convey the suffering, helplessness and misery of those encased by war with no way out. But the musicians did more: while maintaining their concentration on performance, they managed to convey a sense of understated theatricality, coming forward and disappearing behind red barriers, sometimes wandering the stage mournfully like exiled ghosts.

And once again, the Galway festival managed by chance to provide a moment of performance synchronicity. Behind the Brodsky Quartet, over their backdrop, a stage light aimed at the ceiling attracted a sequence of white moths, drawn like fluttering sleepwalkers out of the darkness. As they flashed for one last living moment in the hot white beam from the lamp, their search for light extinguished them in a puff of smoke.

Published in The Irish Times 26 July 2007

Christine Madden, Journalist & Dramaturg

http://christine-madden.com/en/content/dancing-streets-galway-arts-festival

Chamber Music Theatre – instrumentalists on the stage

Clarinet Quintet: In Memoriam: for those who fall in time of war Commissioned by Joan Lluna and the Brodsky String Quartet, ca.30 mins. with funds from the Arts Council of England. Premiere: Jacqueline Du Pres Music Building, Oxford University, 13th November 2005. Further performances:

Royal Scottish Academy of Music, April 2009
Trinity College of Music: Greenwich String Quartet Festival, April 2009
Germany, UK and Bosnia, 2008
Galloway Arts Festival, Ireland, July 2007
Belgrade, Serbia, 28 June, 2007
The Hague, Holland, 16 June 2007
4-5 June, 2007; In Residence at CSSD, London.
Barcelona, Spain 10.3.2007
Auditorio Eduardo Del Pueyo, Zaragosa, Spain, 19th June, 2006
FESTIVAL De Las Artes De Castilla Y León, Salamanca, Spain; Teatro Caja Duero, 17 de junio de 2005
Blackheath Concert Hall, London, UK, 7 May, 2005
Televised for Canal 22, Mexico, 2005
Festival del Centro Historico, Mexico City, Mexico, 16th April, 2005
Chipping Norton Theatre, Oxon. 12th February 2005

 


Reviews:

…the second part to left us astonished in the overflow of the auditory impressions. The premiere in Spain of the Quintet for clarinet quintet, In Memory: for those who fall in Time to war, by Paul Barker walked in the edge of the impossible things, linking subtly extreme registries, psychic transitions, games of incredible overtones and indescribable witheld sounds. A music of deep sonorous dramatic quality. Accompanied by exquisite and a symbolic one. … Pity that the space and the word remain too poor to be able to relate here the life of the thing in listening to it. Impressive.

Elisa Ramos Martín, 18/06/05, para Tribuna de Salamanca

The second part occupied the staging of the work of Paul Barker " In Memoriam: For Those Who Fall in Times of War" , tributed to the members of the Sarajevo Quartet, fallen in the war, like so many defenders of the plural Bosnian project, devastated by the ethnic cleaners. Here the text is music, nothing better to express the human frustration. With simple gestures quartet and clarinet they reflect on the suffering until the end in which, after desolate notes on the clarinet, leaves the stage empty and with cello fallen in front of the public. The quartet and clarinet were very accurate in their double function of musicians and actors and they offered as disquieting a spectacle to us that can be remembered. Juan Carlos Galtier. Heraldo de Aragón, 21 de junio de 2006.

 

See TV recording on Youtube

This work was written at the request of Joan Lluna to write something for him and the Brodsky quartet, with funds from the Arts Council of England. It was premiered in Oxford in November 2004. The work was conceived as a response to the wars unleashed during recent years and is dedicated to the Sarajevo String Ensemble, all but one of whose members died in the Yugoslavian conflict. It was designed as a chamber music-theatre, and contains specific instructions for staging and performance.

The first movement, Lachrymae, begins with the cellist alone, the other instruments enter one by one, and the music is suffused with a single melodic idea which rises and falls continuously. The clarinet enters on an impossibly long and high note, creating a new emotional response from the quartet. The second half of the movement returns to the motif against which three of the instruments seem to plead, but the result is inevitable.

The second movement is called Soliloquy: Song of the Anchorite. In medeval times, an anchorite was a nun tied to a church or abbey. In some extreme cases, she was walled in to her living space, which she never left. The clarinet plays simple melodies out of very few notes, suspended by the quartet playing in different metres, often playing in duos. At the end, the simple, repeated figuration of the strings disappears into gesture with no sound.

The third movement is a Chorale, entitled The Soft Cathedral. The image for me fuses the vast and grand traditional cathedral acoustic space with a human body. In contrast to the preceding movement, all five players play consistently. The texture of the quartet expresses a vast echoing acoustic, while the clarinet line seems more personal and intimate.

The fourth movement, Exeunt Omnes, is a dirge in the sense that it is based on the repetition and development of a very short musical idea. The clarinet enters after a climax, and each of the strings plays a farewell before leaving the stage. However, the strings play from off-stage in the coda, while the clarinet continues to articulate notes they have ceased to play. The sound of the quartet lingers in the distance enforcing the clarinet’s final dying gesture.

Paul Barker Nov 2004

Libera Me - excerpt from Wall

The Wall Music theatre for baritone, actor and 5 trombones and tape, ca. 30 mins. Premiered by SPNM at Royal Northern College of Music, 1982 2nd production: Guildhall School of Music, London, 1984 3rd production: London International Opera Festival, 1990 Spoken and sung texts are interwoven, in a ritual format which uses the strikingly coloured accompaniment of five trombones, supported by similar material on tape. Restraint is the prevailing tone. The trombones meditate freely on chords and modes, essentially static even when active on the surface, and the climax arrives with a letter of extraordinary composure sent to his family by an East German prisoner. A final Libera Me, apparently rewritten lifts the aftermath into quiet optimism. The Independent 14.7.90

Death & Transformation, commissioned by FONCA (Arts Council equivalent of Mexico) commission to write Death & Transformation for Onix Chamber Ensemble, (Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello & Piano, duration 15 minutes).

Stone Song; Stone Dance For 4 players with stones; commissioned by Tambuco Percussion Ensemble, Mexico and performed internationally – currently in repertoire; Recent performances: 12th May, 2006; Sala Nezahualcóyotl, Autonomous University of Mexico; 6 & 7 October, 2006 Festival Cervantino, Mexico


More details and see video

Viewing the Instruments: Risk = 1% Music Theatre (ca. 10 mins.) Commissioned with funds from the Arts Council of England. Viol da Gamba, Cello and Flute, 5 mins.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Melodrama for Narrator, Flute, Piano ca. 20 mins. Recorded by Unicorn-Kanchana by Richard Baker, Ann Cherry & Raphael Terroni. Commissioned by East Midlands Arts. Richard Baker was the vividly clear and rhythmically yet discreet story-teller in the London Premiere of Paul Barker’s Pied Piper of Hamelin, irresistible entertainment (not uninfluenced by the old showman in Petrushka) for the young of all ages. The Times 17.12.81