HECTOR PARRA: A concert of angels against the walls of my skull
String Quartet n. 4 (2020) 18 min. - World premiere
"In memory of Robert Gerhard on the 50th anniversary of his death."
We live in a time of intense political uncertainty. But Pier Paolo Pasolini, as early as the 1960s, had clearly seen the way in which a certain fascism survives and annihilates every trace of humanity in modern society through consumer culture. In his tragedy Orgia (1966) love and sex are at the service of the sadistic destruction of the other. To denounce his personal drama, the male protagonist hangs himself dressed as a woman. In fact, in the last moment of his life, after realizing his difference, his homosexuality, he performs the most powerful act imaginable: an accusatory suicide that aims at a society full of misunderstanding. , of hypocrisy, cruelty and contempt for any kind of minority. In this way, Pasolini denounces not only the drama of homosexuality, but that of a world that sweeps away all difference. The horror of a society that, under the powerful homogenizing impulse, seeks to erase from the map those who feel trapped under the wheels of history. This was the case with many artists and intellectuals who had actively collaborated with the Second Spanish Republic and the Catalan government in the late 30s Robert Gerhard was undoubtedly the most representative of the Catalan musical creation in exile, and with the composition of this string quartet I would like to pay him the humblest and most sincere tribute on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death.
Inspired both by episode IV of Orgy and by some surprising compositional discoveries of the last Gerhard (arising from the transfer of his practice of electronic music to instrumental composition), A concert of angels against the walls of my skull, with his Pasolini "desire for reality", explores the oppositions between homophony and polyphony, flatness and roughness, modernity and archaism, which are inspired by the dualities so loved by Pasolini: past / present, death / sex, ancestral society / modern life. In my quartet they face the mysterious appearance of a traditional Catalan song of atavistic colors -El cotiló-, so loved and quoted by Robert Gerhard from his thirty-year exile in the United Kingdom, an exile that lasted until his death. As Pasolini wrote in Empirismo eretico, “an author can only be a stranger in a hostile land: in fact, he lives death instead of living life, and the feeling he provokes is a feeling, more or less strong, of racial hatred ”.
I would like to express my gratitude and gratitude to the Minister of Culture in Exile Lluís Puig and to Rut Martínez Ribot for their trust and help in carrying out this creative project.
Hector Parra (Paris, September 2020)
Christopher Otto, violin
Austin Wulliman, violin
John Pickford Richards, viola
Jay Campbell, cello
Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik and the Department of Culture of the Generalitat de Catalunya