Alberto Posadas, Umbrales evanescentes

Alberto Posadas, Umbrales evanescentes

Photography : © Harald Hoddmann

Alberto Posadas talks about his complete cycle for ensemble Poética del espacio that will be premiered this Saturday 19 October by the Klangforum in the framework of the Donaueschinger Musiktage.

Alberto, you enjoy working in cycles. Following the three saxophone quartets of the « Poética del Laberinto », the Achtbrücken festival in Cologne will premiere the third volume of the cycle « Poética del Espacio ». Could you tell us more about working in cycles and why this structure speaks to you?

I started composing cycles around 16 years ago. Over the time, gradually and in a very natural way it became a need for some projects. Every cycle I have composed is different in itself, but there is always a constant leading thread, which is the need to create relationships in longer terms and to dive more in deepness into the potential of the musical material. This led me to articulate big forms in which some parts can work as autonomous pieces and at the same time to establish conexions with the others, forming a sort of extended memory process.

The philosophy of Gaston Bachelard, namely « The Poetics of Space » wirtten in the 1950s, is referenced explicitly in the work « Umbrales evanescentes » and, even earlier, in the eponymously named cycle « Poética del Espacio ». What concepts developed in this work most inspired you, and how can the audience in Cologne best perceive these influences?

The book of Bachelard was very important for me in the first steps of the compositional process. I had worked in previous pieces on the relation between space and music from the perspective of what the anaylsis of some architectural structures can provide to the composer.

When I read his book, I was impressed by Bachelard, and how he moved from a logical towards a phenomenological approach to the reality. His way to “read” the space through the idea of experiencing it was the impuls for me to compose the cycle. But during the compositional process, step by step, I started to filter the input of his book and to scape from any didactic or descriptive view related to the work of Bachelard. I focused my work on what I consider deeper in his book, which is the poetic dimension of experiencing the space under different approaches.

In your introductory text to the work, you highlight a form of forbidden inwardness present within this latest work. You also claim to be less inclined to work on a “spatial” sound space (in other words, the space in concert hall) than an “instrumental” sound space (that is to say, the new sound spaces created by the hybridisation of the timbres of the four solo instrumentalists). Do these “evanescent thresholds” to which refers the title of the work represent a new sustainable path in your musical writing? Has the particular performance style of the Klangforum soloists, faithful collaborators for several years, inspired this new path? Could it one day be explored by a larger ensemble, such as the orchestra?

I can n’t say that I am not inclined to work on a “spatial” sound. In fact this is one of the main issues in this project, but in this particular piece of the cycle, Umbrales evanescentes, the predominant focus is, as you mention, the instrumental sound space. This inner space of the instrument is reshaped using some techniques of hybridisation that create the tendency to vanish the thresholds, the boundaries defined by the traditional use of the instruments. At the same time the border traditionally established by the concerto genre between the soloists and the tutti is vanished in this piece, as the material flows among them without any dialectical relatioship.

Concerning your question about the path, yes, I have the impression that these evanescent thresholds could represent a sustainable path, but not new, as I have been working in this direction for some other pieces.

But how long will be this path sustainable? I have no idea. Only till I feel it is necessary for me. What I’m pretty sure is that it will not be the only path.

The collaboration with Klangforum has been very fruitful. We had some work sessions one year and a half ago, where I could show the use of some instruments and the musical material I was interested in, and where I received a very inspiring feedback from them. Even the use of some not very conventional instruments like the firebird trumpet or the baritone, for instance, is something that came to my mind thanks to this work with them. Also during the composition of the pieces I had a very fluent exchange with some members of the ensemble. Some percussion instruments have been built for this project after my request.

It is obvious that I have been composing this cycle with Klangforum Wien in mind, which does not mean that other ensembles can not play this music. In fact the first piece of the cycle, Trayectorias, was premiered by Collegium Novum.

Yes, I do think that this path, this approach to the use of the instruments, can be explored in larger ensembles. In the case of the orchestra, my current idea is how to extend these way of working to the concerto, which is something I wish to develop in the upcoming years.