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Inside one breath


As in any physical dance, the essence of Johannes Marmén’s Inside one breath is contained in the bodily presence of the participants. In this case the precise form of any particular iteration of the piece foregrounds the characteristics of the players. This means, first and foremost, their physical traits—how deeply each performer breathes, the shape of their hands, as well as how each of them moves their hands and fingers, including any so-called imperfections in their movements; and secondly, the thought processes intrinsic to the performance—the decisions each performer takes, along with their personal expressive intentions. Inside one breath thus incorporates tactile sounds and improvisatory elements; these include a flat drum skin stroked with the hand to make continuously changing sounds, free melodic improvisations on the violin and guitar, and the tiny variations produced by glissandi and vibrato, which draw attention to the vanishingly thin dividing line between those sounds.

The length and shape of Inside one breath is also determined by the performers’ subjective sense of the passing of time, as silence and rest markers require them to rely on their individual perceptions and experience. The aim is to undermine the listener’s awareness of temporal progression. Instead, the piece should appear, as it were, to come into being in an instant. To quote Marmén, Inside one breath is not a ‘journey’, but an ‘event’, which the composer likens to the planar fields of a Mondrian painting, while the steplike structure, accentuated in the guitar part, invokes the four-note sequence that earlier composers routinely laid down as a ground and thus echoes the ‘gravitational pull’ of a chaconne.

from notes by Paul Williamson © 2019


From the ground up – The chaconne
Studio Master: SIGCD574Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD574 track 12

Recording date
23 September 2018
Recording venue
Wathen Hall, St Paul's School, Barnes, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Nicholas Parker
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. From the ground up – The chaconne (SIGCD574)
    Disc 1 Track 12
    Release date: June 2019
    Download only
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