lullabies for three flowers

op. 82, 2019

I. lullaby for a rose
II. lullaby for a windflower
III. lullaby for jasmine

For violin and string orchestra
Duration: 7.40 min

Commissioned by Niklas Liepe for the project #GoldbergReflections
CD-Recording for Sony Classical, February 2020
Orchestra: NDR Radiophilharmonie
Violin: Niklas Liepe
Conductor: Jamie Philipps


Composer´s notes

The composition lullabies for three flowers is inspired by J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The idea came from the soloist Niklas Liepe, who commissioned a work for violin solo and string orchestra related to the Variations.

Aria and its variations were composed by Bach for Count Hermann Carl von Keyserlingk. He wanted to hear music by J.S. Bach to help him fall asleep, as he suffered from insomnia. Bach’s pupil Johan Gottlieb Goldberg played the pieces to him in the evening, which is how they later got their name.

From the “stillness” and resonance of the Goldberg Variations, a wish grew in me to compose lullabies for three flowers. Nature is experiencing – also because of climate change – an evolution that challenges it every day to act and grow differently. The need to protect it is more urgent every day. The flowers, the trees, the sea, the sky and we humans with them are experiencing a new time. These three compositions are meant to awaken a sensibility towards the flowers: an awareness of respect, compassion, and care. Rather than destroy nature, we should admire it, to be mindful of it and perceive how important and necessary it is for us, even with its beauty. A lullaby is an image for this insofar as it radiates trust, warmth, and security.

In compositional terms, the themes of all three pieces flow quasi-horizontally. Delicate melodies and rhythms intertwine and create a particular atmosphere and harmony, which connects the three lullabies together. I took the compositional inspiration and certain themes, harmonies and rhythms from the Aria, Variation 7, Variation 13 and Variation 22 and changed them, thus following the instruction of Bach’s “Aria with various changes”.

The interpretation of this music lies in the vitality of every single note, and the close interaction between the solo violin and the orchestra. The musical phrases between the soloist and orchestra are connected throughout each lullaby, so that there is no gap in the sound. Sometimes this sonic universe is evoked by the soloist alone; sometimes, in dialogue with the orchestra. The virtuosity lies mainly in searching and finding the particular sound, and less in the technique.
The recurring ritenuto passages are played in basic tempo, so that the flow of sound is continuous and unbroken. The energy of each lullaby remains intense, although the dynamics never reach a forte. Even extreme espressivo does not over-dominate these lullabies, and the vibrato is intended to be played in such a way as to let the phrases breathe naturally.


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