Widmann: Passacaglia

Program Note

Jörg Widmann (b.1973)
Passacaglia (2000, rev.2006)

“This Piano Trio Passacaglia is the ‘junior’ companion piece to my cello concerto Dunkle Saiten (Dark Strings), or more precisely to the concerto’s large-dimensional introductory section with the indication ‘Feierlich, schreitend’ (solemnly, striding).  What in the cello concerto inescapably culminates in a catastrophe remains, in this composition, ostensibly largely conflict-free.  This is in fact perhaps one of my most peaceful and conflict-free compositions; it consists of a half an hour of almost exclusively tonal progressions.  Here, passacaglia (stepping dance!) is taken literally: the step progressions themselves become the subject of the work.  This also includes pausing, not being able to progress, feeling one’s way, stumbling and taking compulsive steps forward.

As familiar as the harmonic surface of the structure appears, for me the natural adaptation of the musical flow was new to a similar degree.  This is my attempt to produce a linear tonal band (a horizontal) exclusively with the aid of harmonic—i.e. vertical—progressions.”

—Jörg Widmann