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 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
Publisher: Musikproduktion Höflich München, Repertoire & Opera Explorer, Gourzi Edition
Lullabies for three flowers is inspired by JS Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”. The soloist Niklas Liepe had commissioned a work with this connection, for solo violin and string orchestra.
Bach wrote his aria and ensuing variations for Count Hermann Carl von Keyserlingk who wanted some music by Bach to help him sleep. Bach’s pupil, Johan Gottlieb Goldberg, performed the piece for him in the evening, which is how it later got its name. The history of the Goldberg Variations inspired me to these lullabies and the form of miniatures for this composition. With my own variations I continue Bach’s work.
The lullabies for three flowers intend to make us more sensitive to the flowers, and thereby to the feelings of respect, compassion and care. We should not destroy nature; we must admire it, treat it gently, and realise how important and necessary it is for us – by its beauty, too. A lullaby is the perfect form for this, as it radiates trust, warmth and security.
In compositional terms, the themes of all three pieces flow quasi-horizontally along the same plain. 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 solo 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.
Picking up on Bach’s characteristic stylistic devices, the recurring ritenuto passages are played in basic tempo, so that the flow of sound is constantly continued and never stops. The energy of each lullaby remains intense, although the dynamics never reach a forte. Even extreme espressivo doesn’t dominate these lullabies and the vibrato is intended to be played to let the phrases breathe naturally.