Ralf Bauer-Mörkens, Metamorphose
A piece for solo guitar.
Metamorphosis is one of those concepts found within many human activities in Eastern and Western cultures, from science to mysticism, from philosophy to art. It permeates fantasies of all kinds and has had its meaning transformed throughout history. Writers such as Kafka have dedicated their efforts to exploring this phenomenon; scientists have identified hundreds of creatures in nature that can change their shapes during their lives; philosophical works such as Ovid's Metamorphoses and the Chinese I Ching explored centuries ago some of its subtleties; Dante explored his moral metamorphosis in the Divine Comedy; artists all over the world have their work and research based on changes; and composers such as Joseph Strauss, Phillip Glass, and John Cage have dedicated much of their artistic efforts to explore it in music.
Despite its widespread application in so many cultures, metamorphosis remains one of the biggest conceptual mysteries, only partially explained by science, philosophy, and religions. Some interesting explanations have been provided to clarify this concept, but some have created an even more mysterious aura around it. A very interesting approach to metamorphosis can be found in BBC's documentary Metamorphosis, The Science of Change: "If caterpillars want to fly, they metamorphose and create wings; if humans want to fly, we create aeroplanes."
Matching the feeling of elegant mystery, Ralf Bauer, the German composer and guitarist, was inspired by Bach's Chaconne, the last movement of violin Partita in D minor (BWV 1004). He is one of the most mystical composers of all times, with his music praised as arising from a superior intelligence. Bach also knew the more mundane, down-to-earth aspects of the solo instruments he was composing. He was conscious of the exact effect that some famous passages of his monumental Chaconne would have on the audience. The gist of this piece is very much discussed, and a very touching (yet unconfirmed) version is that this is a Tombeau for his wife, Maria Barbara, who had died shortly before he completed the Partita. Considered the technical and expressive climax of the piece by many specialists and performers alike, the arpeggio section of the Chaconne has inspired composers and artists for centuries now. In the following lines, Ralf Bauer refers to the influence of this work on his artistic output:
"When I was a child, I heard the Chaconne from Partita in D minor by J.S. Bach, and the arpeggio part controls me till today. For the guitar, I intended to compose an arpeggio which leads the guitar to its limits, like what happens with the violin in the Partita. The title Metamorphose means that everything changes and flows."
Even while respecting his 18th-century countryman, Bauer knew how not to copy Bach's model merely but to be wholeheartedly inspired by it to create a breathtaking piece, which brings the guitarist's technique (particularly the right hand) to its limits of technical stamina, while coping with the emotional and philosophical strain caused by the idea of metamorphosis.
Bauer's musical influences go deep into other cultures, as well as many different styles of pop music and Eastern and Western philosophies. His rendering of the phenomenon of metamorphosis conveys complex concepts through music, such as the Heraclitus' river, déjà-vu, circularity, shapeshifting, and, of course, Bach.
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- Pages: 16
- Level: Advanced
Order number: BE-200802
Listen to a high-quality sound recording on Sound Cloud. Performed by Fabricio Mattos:
Or see the Youtube video where Fabricio Mattos play "Metamorphose":