Dedication: Alessandro Solbiati
At 19 bells, Freiburg’s carillon is one of the largest in Germany, and hearing it in October 2011 inspired Clara Iannotta to compose a loose trilogy of works in response: Glockengiesserei for cello and electronics, D’après for ensemble and, between these two, Clangs for cello and ensemble. For the composer the bells’ attraction lay not only in their sound but also in how its memory might be transformed through acts of recollection and repetition. Although the Freiburg peal itself is partially recreated midway through Clangs as several players switch instruments to hand-held gongs, cowbells and other metallic percussion, much of the piece looks to other aspects of the experience: waiting and anticipation before the bells sound, and the sound of their decay over the city, into silence. These are suggested sonically by harmonicas wrapped in tissue paper, gelinotte birdcalls, music boxes and other effects that stretch the music towards the edges of perception, and tease our own senses of memory and nostalgia. All have since become signatures of Iannotta’s style.
Clangs is the transitional moment in this process of recollection. With some changes, it is an orchestration of Glockengiesserei. In turn, its first section served as a model for D’après, a piece that explores still further the after-effects of sound and memory. The cello’s solo role is gradually subsumed across the three pieces, a faint echo, perhaps, of the way the bells’ declamatory attack soon dissolves into the air around it.
Clangs was first performed by Séverine Ballon and the TM+ Ensemble, conducted by Laurent Cuniot. It is dedicated to Iannotta’s teacher Alessandro Solbiati.
© Tim Rutherford-Johnson, 2018