We fell for “The King of the Sun” by Stephen Hartke from the moment we heard it. Studying the piece and finding out more about it was great fun. The titles of the movements are taken from paintings by Joan Miró and the musical material derives from a late medieval canon “Le ray au soleyl”. Looking at Miró´s pictures and listening to the canon really helped us to capture the many characters and atmospheres. As Hartke puts it: ‘Just as Miró’s painting is both whimsical and serious, I have sought to accomplish the same thing in my music”. We enjoy the surrealistic variety of colours and styles in this music from plainchant to jazz. The title of our CD comes from the last title of this piece, “Personages and birds rejoicing at the arrival of night”. The entire work fits the theme perfectly, because in the words of Stephen Hartke ‘ (…) most curiously for a piece entitled “The King of the Sun”, most of the movements take place indoors or at night”.
Astor Piazzolla’s devil’s pieces date from the end of the ´50s. Piazzolla started playing bandoneon and was introduced to the tango at a very young age. When he was only 28, he decided to drop tango music and the bandoneon all together, determined to focus on classical music, jazz and composing. He got the opportunity to study in France with Nadia Boulanger in 1954, where he played down his musical past. When he finally performed one of his tangos, Boulanger told him: “Astor, your classical pieces are well written, but the true Piazzolla is here, never leave it behind”. After this experience he developed a unique musical style combining classical music with the tango; these three devilish pieces are a great example. Even though our imagination would want us to believe this music was played in dark tango clubs, it was actually performed in concert halls (like Philharmonic Hall in New York in 1965).
These three devilish pieces (another subtle reference to our theme) are a valuable addition to our repertoire. We had a great time with Elsbeth Moser looking for the right groove and awakening the devils in ourselves.