Gedichte zu Prometheus

op. 28, 2005

Gedicht Nr. 1
Gedicht Nr. 2
Gedicht Nr. 3
Gedicht Nr. 4

For orchestra
Instrumentation: 2.2.2.2. – 2.0.0.0., two percussions, strings
Duration: 20 min.

Commissioned by the Münchner Kammerorchester, supported by the Greek Office for Press and Information for South of Germany
World premiere: 19 January 2006, Prinzregententheater München. Münchner Kammerorchester,
conductor: Christoph Poppen

Publisher: Musikproduktion Höflich München, Repertoire & Opera Explorer, Gourzi Edition

Composer’s note

The myth of Prometheus is connected with the struggle for knowledge. The Greek word for it is gnosis, a mix of knowledge, search for the truth and being initiated. These different point of views help to see this myth in a new way. In doing so, the question of tradition is very important to me: the awareness for our roots, to respect them and to transfer them into the here and now. How do I combine today’s possibilities, the open borders and retaining the individualities, in the composition and the interpretation of the music?

In 2005, Christoph Poppen and the Münchner Kammerorchester asked me if I wanted to add a composition of my own to Beethoven’s “Prometheus”. To write a piece that simply precedes or follows Beethoven’s cycle seemed too distant, conventional, even dangerous. The idea to alternate my own miniatures with Beethoven’s miniatures gave an additional perspective, more time and a different scale to the topic of Prometheus. Nevertheless, the pieces should also represent compositions of their own.

One of the most important, principal dramaturgical ideas in this work is to create an apparent sense of unrest in all four poems. This is produced by the sense of movement created by frequent changes of time signature and also melodies – which are either hidden, or become hidden through their division across different instruments. This is how I would like to express Prometheus’s struggle, his varying powers and the effect of godly aspects on him, in sound.

In the first poem (“Gedicht”), the most prominent aspects are time signature changes in a fast tempo, and a melodic dialogue between different groups of instruments at the same time. The climax of the soundscape is not reached until the end of the poem.
In the second poem, the time signature changes continue, but more slowly. The sound of the main melody, which begins in the clarinet, is to the fore. This melody is then taken over by several other instruments in a soloist manner, so that it appears to wander throughout the piece.
In the third poem, the strings are scored in a highly dynamic, rhythmic way, with many noises, which is only occasionally “commented” on by other groups of instruments.
In the fourth poem it would appear, that the battle with the rhythm that has been occurring up until now has found a solution. This appears via a long passage in 2/4 time, filled with strong and different rhythms. The concertmaster and the principal second violin, and later the clarinet, take it in turns to play a melody in a dialogue, and also as a dramaturgical answer to everything that has gone before.

The Gedichte zu Prometheus are another enriching experience in working with exceptional musical sources, after my compositional completion of Haydn’s fragmentary opera Philemon und Baucis.

© Norbert Banik

Press reviews

“Die Entdeckung des Abends war von Konstantia Gourzi. Die Griechin hat 2005 vier ‘Gedichte zu Prometheus’ geschrieben. Gourzis Musik besticht sofort durch einen elektrisierenden Klang, der raffinierte Orchesterbehandlung mit elementarer rhythmischer Kraft und einer quasi-volksmusikhaften Melodik verbindet. Hier wurde etwas von der Kraft und Ursprünglichkeit des Mythos fühlbar.”

Hamburger Abendblatt, 15 February 2008

“Für Spannung sorgte dann wieder die Komponistin Konstantia Gourzi. Durchaus eigenwillig durchkreuzte sie Beethovens Ballett ‘Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus’, konfrontierte vier seiner Sätze mit ihren Gedichten. Poppen konnte sich auf das an diesem Abend mit adäquaten Bläsern und Peter Sadlo am Schlagwerk bestens ausstaffierte Kammerorchester verlassen. Nahtlos wechselte es von der klassisch-beschwingten Transparenz (Nr. 3) oder dem dramatischen Auffahren (Nr. 9) zu der düsteren (Klarinetten- )Klage (Gedicht 2) oder dem exotisch-folkloristisch wirkenden Ausklang mit den in der Stille auspendelnden Glocken (Gedicht 4). Auch am Ende viel Applaus.”

Münchner Merkur, 10 April 2009

“Dazu nun hat die griechische Komponistin Konstantia Gourzi, Professorin an der Münchener Musikhochschule, vier Interludien verfasst, das sind Zwischenspiele, die rhythmisch ausgesprochen raffiniert gesetzt sind, die einen modernen Blickwinkel auf den aufmüpfigen Prometheus zulassen. Allzu fremd und entfernt von klassisch geprägten Hörgewohnheiten klang das allerdings nicht, dafür sehr farbig im Volkston. Eben noch im Beethoven-Modus, wird jetzt gezupft, auf Streichinstrumenten getrommelt, geklopft, gestrichen, geraunt. Das klingt exotisch, sehr nach Süden und lässt im Aufbegehren gegen die Götter weiten Raum für Gedankenspiele.”

Freie Presse Chemnitz, 20 September 2014

Audio sample

Score