world premiere of Sylvia’s recording of ANAMNESIS

performed by SYLVIA SZE-HUA JEN
I. Spaciously II. Slightly faster III. With more movement

(…) perhaps I am one of those who try to see the invisible, to hear the inaudible. Human perception is not uniform but has varying levels. My music is something like a signal sent to the unknown. Moreover, I imagine and believe that my signal meets another’s signal, and the resulting physical change creates a new harmony different from the original two. And this is a continuous, changing process. Therefore, my music will not be complete in the form of a score. Rather, if refuses completion.

Toru Takemitsu
(from ‘Gardener of Time’; September 16, 1993 Tokyo)

ANAMNESIS | After Toru Takemitsu

From the Greek words anamimnēskein meaning to recall, to remember; and mimnēskein: to call to mind. In psychology, ‘anamnesis’ is used to describe the recall to memory, a recollection; while in medicine, it represents the ability to recall past events. In philosophy, ‘anamnesis’ is a concept in Plato’s epistemological and psychological theory. Platonicism is a recollection of the ideas which the soul had known in a previous existence, especially by means of reasoning. It is the idea that humans possess knowledge from past incarnations and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge within us. In the Catholic religion, ‘anamnesis’ appears as a prayer in a Eucharistic service, recalling the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ.

In 1992, Takemitsu composed a trio for flute, viola and harp entitled “And then I knew ’twas wind”. This work is a late example of Takemitsu’s life-long interest in French music. It was his tribute to Claude Debussy. Takemitsu borrowed the instrumentation of Debussy’s Sonata No. 2 for flute, viola, and harp, and also alluded to it by a literal quote of a rising figure that first appears in the viola. He described the piece as a “…soul, or unconscious mind (we could even call it a ‘dream’), which continued to blow, like the wind, invisibly, through human consciousness.” Following Takemitsu’s idea of borrowing and quoting, I took a figure from the harp solo in the very first opening bar of Takemitsu’s “And then I knew ’twas wind”. The original material is a six-note figure which I have used throughout my piece, partially presented six times (twice in every movement) and finally appearing in its complete form at the end of the piece.

ANAMNESIS has been divided into three movements, with each movement increasing in tempo resulting in a gradual condensation in the flow of time. The piece is however meant as a whole, with the movements connected in two ways. Firstly, each movement consists of materials from the other two movements; however this diminishes progressively towards the end. Almost half of the first movement consists of materials from the 2nd and 3rd movements. The second movement, however, contains only nearly 30% of the materials from the 1st and 3rd movements. Finally the third movement is made up of 80% new material with the remaining 20% from the 1st and 2nd movements. The core linking factor of the piece is a five-note pattern – forming the main theme (based in part on the Japanese Ichikosucho scale) — which unfolds partially in the first movement, finally presented in its entirety in the second movement, and returning in reminiscence at the very end of movement three.

Composed simultaneously in two versions – for solo piano and solo guitar (in December 2013 – January 2014), I have based ANAMNESIS on the same guitar tuning I used for The GO-DAI Concerto (both in memory of Toru Takemitsu), to recall the compositional steps I took while composing that piece. The phenomenon of ANAMNESIS (i.e. recalling to memory) is also reflected musically via a number of ‘central notes’ which continuously recur (indicated in the guitar score by dotted lines). This suggests (for the listener) the illusion of memory of previously heard notes. In the piano version, ANAMNESIS is captured through dynamic contrasts (the echo effect); while in the guitar version, it is achieved through repeating the same note on different strings or via natural or artificial harmonics.

Marek Pasieczny
LONDON, The UK Jan.2014

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Sylvia during International Piano Festival in Scotland!

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