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To hell! (2005-2008)for viola and ensemble
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Niets Nieuws (2008)
photo: Philip Mechanicus
|Instrumentation: vla solo, fl, ob, cl, b-cl, bsn, cor, trp, trbn, pf, perc, 2 vl, vlc, cb
Duration: ± 11 minutes
First performance: 20 april 2005 in the Vereeniging in Nijmegen by Susanne van Els and the Schönberg Ensemble conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw
Written for: Susanne van Els and the Schönberg Ensemble
On the occasion of: the 2000th anniversary of the City of Nijmegen
Commissioned by: Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst
Review: "To hell!, that reflects on the story of Mariken van Nieumeghen and her devilish liaison, starts sparkingly virtuoso with sharp accents. The entrance of the viola (symbolic for "Moenen", the devil) is preceded by a sinister sound picture. Very striking. The rattling accompaniment of the soloist by a stream of ghastly high piano-notes also pricked up one's ears."
(Maarten-Jan Dongelmans in De Gelderlander, 21 april 2005)
Reviews of the CD 'To You': "Angular, panting and restless is the sound of Van Els in ’To hell!’ by Mayke Nas, one of the most interesting composers in the Netherlands. With Nas the viola is the devil, at the end of the raging work even shortly dressing up as Stravinsky. Very strong work, very strongly played as well."
(Anthony Fiumara in Trouw, 20 march 2010)
"To hell! by Mayke Nas shines in all aspects, with van Els as rendering soul in the middle."
(Jan van Laar, Elsevier, 27 march 2010)
|Mayke Nas originally wrote To Hell! for an anniversary concert celebrating the 2000th anniversary of the city of Nijmegen that took place in April 2005. As a source of inspiration she chose one of the oldest surviving texts in the Dutch language: the medieval parable “Mariken van Nieumeghen” (16th century). Mayke Nas: "You could view Mariken van Nieumeghen as a Faust legend avant la lettre. A girl sells her soul to the devil in a moment of weakness in exchange for the promise to be taught the Seven Liberal Arts: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Music, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Astronomy."
The choice of this topic places Mayke Nas in a long series of literary (Goethe and Thomas Mann) and musical (Gounod, Busoni, Wagner, Lizst, Schnittke, Stravinsky and Boehmer) predecessors, but she distances herself strongly from the Christian connotation that often clings to the parable: "For me, Alice in Wonderland or Huckleberry Finn are, like God and the devil, figures in a book. In other words: product of the human mind. And people have both good and bad, respectively divine and demonic qualities. That is what in my mind this story is about. We always strive for more, for better or just for something different. But some desires come at a higher price than others. When is a desire so radical that you would trade in your soul?"
In To Hell!, the viola plays with a witty musical resemblance to the protagonist from another famous soul-to-the-devil-selling-story: “L'histoire du soldat”, by Stravinsky. The story of Mariken is very virtuous (no medieval story without a moral), but in To Hell!, the viola celebrates in the role of the devil, and hell is portrayed as a festive carousal.