dead wasps in the jam-jar (iii) (2017–18)

Commission: Festival d’Automne à Paris, with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Foundation, and the Proquartet Association.

Duration: 14′

Dedication: to Joséphine Markovits

Programm note:
dead wasps in the jam-jar – like so many of Clara Iannotta’s pieces, its title a striking image taken from the poetry of Dorothy Molloy – began as short piece for the violinist Yuki Numata Resnick. It was one of four new works commissioned to nestle amongst the movements of J. S. Bach’s Partita no. 1 for solo violin, and in this case Iannotta drew inspiration from the Double to Bach’s Corrente, draping a range of glissandi and other noise effects over a skeleton of the original. The idea has since expanded into a series of three separate works: dead wasps in the jam-jar (ii) for string orchestra and electronics, and (iii) for string quartet and electronics.

Iannotta writes that while working on these pieces, she ‘pictured a kind of deep-sea environment, the lowest layer in the ocean, where constant pressure and perpetual movement seem to shape the stillness of time’. dead wasps in the jam-jar (iii) certainly moves through its gestures with the slow, intense consideration of a creature swimming in complete darkness: the original violin solo is stretched to oceanic dimensions, revealing, in its spaces, endless new forms that could not have been seen before. Like the other two pieces in this short series, it is an investigation of surface and what lies beneath it; here the depths are revealed to be more profound than could have been imagined.

dead wasps in the jam-jar (iii) was written for and first performed by the Arditti Quartet in 2017. A completely revised version was first performed by Quatuor Diotima in 2018.
©Tim Rutherford-Johnson, 2018

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