Linke Hand eines Apostels

Program Note

“Linke Hand eines Apostels” (“Left hand of an apostle,” after a sketch by Albrecht Dürer for a small but central detail of a large and spectacular altarpiece, attending feverishly to details of vein, bone, skin, draped folds of cloth, and an almost painful-looking torsion of joints and knuckles–details largely lost in the oil painting that resulted; but here highlighted and exaggerated with a feverish and ultimately unproductive intensity) is written for harpsichord and twelve instruments, among them an obbligato violin and a larger and mostly inactive concertante group of guitar and percussion: proceeding, after an initial fruitless and immediately evaporating burst of articulatory energy, along a thin, frail, friable, unreliable thread, about nineteen minutes long, a single torqued and flexed line.

The harpsichord is a soloist not by virtue of density of rhetoric or soloistic vigor but merely from the sheer unavoidable fact of its mechanism, whose particularities and interior personality dictate the material of the solo part, and a pair of spare, silence-filled cadenzas.

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