In the Chinese mythology there are four heavenly animals.
The Chinese Dragon
In this concerto for horn all of these heavenly animals are presented. The hornist is a kind of storyteller and evaluates to a mythical creature as well. The concerto contains four movements:
1. The Chinese Dragon – (Long)
The Chinese dragon is one of the four heavenly animals and would also be the founder of the Imperial Family.
Dragon Queens provides rain, rivers, lakes and seas. They represent wisdom, strength and goodness. An angry Long Wang causes storm, fog and earthquakes. He protects fishermen and watercourse, but punishes wasters of water. One of them is Pan Long, it lives in the ocean. It seems to be the seahorse we all know today.
2. The Phoenix – (Feng Huang)
His song would be the source of the Chinese scale. Feng Huang lives with Ki-Lin (see also 4th movement) in the Hills of Vermilion. Only in peaceful times, or when a great wise or good emperor is born, the Feng Huang leaves the Land of Immortals to announce prosperity, accompanied by many other birds who honour him as the most beautiful.
3. The Turtle – (Wugui)
The Turtle is one of the animals who was involved in the origin of the earth. It is seen as an oracle.
4. The Unicorn – (Ki Lin)
The unicorn is an animal with male (Ki) and female (Lin) powers. It’s voice is like a church bell. It was born in the heart of the earth and lives behind the clouds. It appears only to announce important events or births. (Just like Feng Huang (2nd movement)).
Live recording by “Windband Semper Unitas Sambeek (NL)” – Geert Mooren, conductor
‘De braove pastoor hâ vergeete, zien klukske te zeegnen – een pienlike zoak.’
The good priest forgot to bless the church bell, a painful matter.’
The devil heard about it and on Christmas Eve, the clock suddenly began to ring hellish. The priest chased the devil. But he took the clock. He buried the clock in the swamp. And still you can hear the bell in Sambeek during the Christmas night.
D’r was ens in Sambek unne brave pastoor, die heuide zien schupkes vol iever. Die bouwde un moi kerkske, en prekte, hoe dukker hoe liever. En hoog in den toore dor hing ie un klok, die klepte ovver wei en akker, as ‘smerges de kuster an ut hennepzeel trok, heel Sambek ja riep hij dan wakker.
Ma iets toch -mok zegge- was nie in den haok. Den brave pastoor haj vergeete zien klokske te zeegne. Un pienlijke zaok, die um zwaor op ut hart het gezeete. ‘t Was kerstnaacht toen ‘t wonder geval is geschied. ‘t Was wiendstil rondum ‘t haontje, de sterkes lachten zo hoog enzo wied’t was kerstnaacht en hel scheen ‘t maontje.
Ma heur, dor op ens in ‘t hart van de naacht, begint ‘t vervaorlijk te wejje. De sturmwiend huult woest en mit raozende kracht, en wild got ‘t haontje ant drejje. Och, hoe de pestoor uut ziene sluumer verschrok! Hoe ie zien hart vuulde ontstelle. Nog gekker, dor gut in de tooren de klok an ‘t luie,an ‘t kleppe, an ‘t belle!
Pestoor loert dur ‘t venster, hoe bonst um ‘t hart! En raoi us, wa zien dor zien ooge? D’n duvel, as ‘t roet van de ketel zo zwart, kumt hoog um den tooren gevlogen. Twee oogen as vuur kieke gluurend int rond, zien start lot ie kronkele en krulle. ‘n Aokelig geschries klinkt zo hels uut zien mond, as of de hel ging an’t brulle. Dan kruupt ie dur ‘t galmgat en griept in ziene bek, ut klokske en vliegt er mit hene. Hej draogt ovver de akkers hin op ziene nek, en toen is ie spoorloos verdweene.
D’r lag in ‘t Sambeks veld een moeras, dor wonde roeke en raave, De Lins hiette ut en begroeid was ut mit gras, dor hettie ut klokske begraave. En iedere Kerstnaacht op slag van 12 uur, al raoze ok sturmigge buujje, Toch kumt er den duuvel mit ooge van vuur, ut Sambekse klokske wer luie.
The Devils Bell
There was a good priest in Sambeek, herding his sheep zealously. He build a beautiful church and preached to his hearts content. And high in the tower he hang a bell, ringing over meadows and fields. As the sacristan pulled the rope every morning, Sambeek was called awake.
But something was not quite right. The good priest forgot to bless the bell. A painful matter, pressing his heart. It was on Christmas eve when it happened. There was no wind, lot of stars laughing high and far and the moon shone bright.
But suddenly, in the middle of the night, the wind starts to blow dangerously. The wind roars fierce and with raging power. The cock on the tower turns wilder and wilder. The pastor is shocked, his heart is running wild. And even crazier, the bell in the tower starts to ring faster and faster.
The pastor looks outside, with pounding heart. And guess what his eyes see. The Devil, as black as soot, flying high around the tower. Two eyes like fire, peeking around, and a tail with twists and curls. A horrible screeching sounds like the roaring hell from his mouth. He crawled through the belfry and engages with its beak the bell and flies away with it. Over the fields around and disappeared.
In Sambeek, there was a swamp. There lived rooks and ravens. The Lins, its called, full of grass. There he has buried the bell. And every Christmas eve at 12 o’clock. Even as the weather is awful. And yet, the Devil with eyes of fire, rings the Church bell of Sambeek.
Quadriptych is as the title suggests a four-part piece and freely inspired by painting-art in common. Quadriptych are paintings with four different elements, atmosphere, color and emotion, but together they tell us just one story or theme.
In Quadriptych I tried to shape four different points of view, with just one single leitmotif (freely inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach). The motif doesn’t change (at least not very much) but the whole atmosphere, color, emotion and (musical) lines do. Just like the familiar painting art.
Prelude – hectic and emotional
Menuet – frivolous
Fugue – fugitive
Final – nostalgic
Quadriptych is commissioned by “Stichting Orgelkring Franciscus Huis Weert (NL)” and is composed for windensemble and organ.
This work was commissioned by “Limburgse Werkgevers Vereniging” (NL) as a tribute to their retiring president Mr. Wim Weijnen, and is freely inspired by the first sentence of the Hebrew Slave Choir from „Nabucco“ by Giuseppe Verdi:
„Va, Pensiero, sull’ali dorate, va, ti posa sui clivi, sui colli“
„Go, thought, on wings of gold, go settle upon the slopes and the hills“
Also available for soprano saxophone solo and wind band.
Demo Recording: (Live recording during world first performance, performed by the wonderful violist Lei Wang, (concertmaster of the Philharmonie Zuid-Nederland) and Koninklijke Harmonie Sainte Cécile Eijsden conducted by Jan Cober)
Trompe-l’oeil (French for “deceive the eye“) is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions.
In particular the Oculus on the ceiling of the Spouses Chamber in the castle of San Giorgio in Mantua (Italy) painted by Andrea Mantegna (15th century) inspired me to create a short piece for wind orchestra that evokes the same fantastic and heavenly atmosphere as the Oculus.