dead wasps in the jam-jar (ii) was written for and first performed by the Münchener Kammerorchester, in October 2016
Commission: Musica Femina München
Dedication: to Marco Frei
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.
Molloy’s poem, ‘Mother’s kitchen’ is, like many of her poems, a tiny, painful snapshot, both everyday and awful: a kitchen, a child playing, and, off-stage, a threatened suicide. There are few programmatic connections to Iannotta’s music, however, and the composer is typically cautious about making direct links. The simple fact is, she says, no other poet quite inspires her sonic imagination in the same way.
In the end, while the influences of both Bach and Molloy are substantial, they rest only lightly on Iannotta’s piece. dead wasps in the jam-jar (ii) sits at one further remove still: a great swelling of the violin solo that expands its gestures and dwells longer in their consequences, augmenting the strings themselves with sine tones and a range of additional objects, including ‘gelinotte’ birdcalls, bowed polystyrene blocks, and plastic containers rubbed on plexiglass. The effect is like lifting a stone and discovering a whole world teeming beneath.
dead wasps in the jam-jar (ii) was written for and first performed by the Münchener Kammerorchester.
© Tim Rutherford-Johnson