“towards us” – Samuel Vriezen

This is a sequence from a cycle of poems by Dutch author and composer Samuel Vriezen, written in Dutch and here in the author’s translation. The cycle is structured as a descending Fibonacci sequence in terms of number of stanzas. The poem following the one here is a sequence of 5 stanzas, one of 3, one of 2, and two of 1. We close the publication with Samuel Vriezen’s composition “Mixed Economy”, in a live recording of the premiere in De Link, Tilburg, on March  11th, 2014, and performed by Ensemble Klang.

 

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A sequence from “towards us”, by Samuel Vriezen. Translated by the author. This poem is dedicated to Dutch poet and translator Frank Keizer, as it enters a dialogue with the text “Of Ships and Sovereignty: Speculations on European Poetry“, penned by both for Dutch magazine Samplekanon.

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Samuel Vriezen – “Mixed Economy”. Live recording of the premiere in De Link, Tilburg, on March 11th, 2014. Performed by Ensemble Klang.

 

About “Mixed Economy” :::: notes by Samuel Vriezen ::::

“Six individuals negotiate a mixed economy, which consists of four different ways of organizing the collective into subgroups. These four planes are intertwined, so the performers must constantly shift their relationship to one another and to the whole, and out of the four planes’ motivic shreds create their song.”

Mixed Economy, written in 2010, is probably the most complex score I have written. The idea was to base everything on the way the sextet can be seen as a rich multiplicity of sub-ensembles: six solos, one sextet, fifteen duos (one for each couple of instruments), two trios (the winds and the ‘rhythm section’, mostly playing chords, however). However, instead of presenting these formations in sequential order, they all happen at the same time. In the densest sections of the piece, everybody is constantly related to everybody else in shifting ways. This puts a lot of pressure on individual parts as well as on the sense of ensemble playing – while creating a polyphony of very high density.

The ideal of a completely saturated polyphony has been a constant in my composing, but not merely from a fascination with high information density. I’d like to create forms that do not only create complex textures, but also make their complexity somehow transparent. You can’t be expected to hear and follow everything, but you should be able to zoom in and zoom out on the processes as they unfold while you listen. To achieve this type of complexity, I have ended up rather simplifying the basic motives of my melodic style, while making heavy use of canon-like relations and repetitions, but always in intricate mosaic patterns and flexible rhythmic relationships.

Within this big, messy flux, sub-ensembles organize themselves: tiny duos that should be completely together, trio or sextet entrances that are coordinated. Like so many attempts at community in a world where all stability is under constant threat of drifting apart. The soft, slow “solos” offer a form of repose.

The piece is in seven sections, each featuring different mixtures of the “planes”. The fifth section is the longest, most continuous onslaught of total counterpoint.’

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Samuel Vriezen is an Amsterdam-based Dutch composer and writer, born in 1973. He has written several works for chamber ensembles, with an interest in non-standard ways of organizing performer coordination and interaction, and in exploring the panoramic contrapuntal possibilities that such methods of ensemble playing give. Vriezen is also a poet and a pianist. He has written many text compositions (or polyphonic poems), and his writing (including poetry, translations and essays) has been published in literary journals including the Dutch Parmentier, the Flemish yang and the French Action Poétique.