Weekend Concert Series: A Far Cry
C.P.E. Bach, Symphony in E-flat Major, H. 654 (1757)W.F. Bach, Sinfonia in D Minor ("Adagio and Fugue"), F. 65 (c. 1740)Arvo Pärt, Fratres (1977/1991)Julia Wolfe, Cruel Sister (2004)
A Far Cry has assembled a fantasia on the theme of siblinghood that straddles two centuries. Works by two of the Bach brothers anchor the program firmly in the Rococo style of the 18th-century, while works by Pärt and Wolfe complete the arc in our own time. Fratres (Latin for “brothers”) is Pärt’s most popular and most flexible work (he has made some 18 versions). It is one of the first works Pärt wrote in a new minimalist style after eight or so years of compositional silence.
Adapted for string orchestra, Julia Wolfe’s work began as a string quartet that draws its dramatic shape (but not its musical material) from a macabre Northumbrian ballad. The song tells the tragic story of two sisters, one of whom drowns the other in the ocean. Wolfe describes the chilling denouement of the story: “Two minstrels find the dead sister washed up on the shore and shape her breastbone into a fine harp strung with her yellow hair.”