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The calligrapher's manuscript

composer

 
The calligrapher’s manuscript was inspired by the remarkable designs of 17th-century Bavarian master Johann Hering found in the Bamberg State Library. While most calligraphers from this period created modelbooks from which students could learn their craft, Hering’s album seems to have been intended purely for private experimentation, and is highly unusual as a result. His designs are incredibly elaborate, and towards the end of the volume, almost completely abstract.

The piece is divided into two contrasting halves. The first concerns the notion of a text adorned by layers of intricate filigree. Just as many of Hering’s pages begin with an enlarged, highly ornamented single letter, the music opens with detailed decorative figuration, and from this texture, melodic fragments gradually begin to emerge until they coalesce into a clear melodic line, which becomes the musical focus, or the ‘text’, if you will.

In the second half, the gradual transformation of a very straightforward rendering of the alphabet into extremely ornate, and eventually purely abstract designs in Hering’s manuscript was the inspiration. Musically, this manifests itself as a simple line in the strings that repeats and evolves, but is gradually joined by other melodic figures in the woodwinds placed in counterpoint against it, leading to a densely multilayered climax of activity, followed by a brief coda.

from notes by Matthew Kaner © 2016

Recordings

The Panufnik Legacies, Vol. 2
Studio Master: LSO5070Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

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