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To hell! (2005)
For viola and ensemble
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Schönberg Ensemble
photo: Philip Mechanicus
Instrumentation: vla solo, fl, ob, cl, b-cl, bsn, cor, trp, trbn, pf, perc, 2 vl, vlc, cb

Duration: ± 7 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)

Audio sample of a live performance by Susanne van Els & the Schönberg Ensemble conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw
In the famous Dutch Faust-legend avant la lettre, “Mariken van Nieumeghen” (16th century), a pious girl is sent to the market in Nijmegen by her uncle. At dusk, she knocks on the door of an aunt in search of a bed for the night. But her aunt unexpectedly throws the door in her face. Upset, the girl sits down under a bush and starts to cry. This is the perfect moment for the devil, or the viola in To hell!, to seize the opportunity.

He introduces himself as a comforting soulmate, who - with a musical witticism - resembles the protagonist from another famous soul-to-the-devil-selling-story: “L'histoire du soldat”, by Stravinsky. The girl lets herself be seduced by the devil and taken to Antwerp. There, the devil raises hell in all bars and inns. He knows how to secretively sow jealousy and discord and how to get drunkards to fight furiously. Every night someone ends up dead.

The story of Mariken continues (no medieval story without a moral), but for To hell!, this is where it ends: the viola celebrates in the role of the devil, and hell is portrayed as a festive carousal.