Anna Clyne is known for her amazing compositions and musical works. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a 2015 Grammy Award nomination or Best Contemporary Classical Composition for her double violin concerto, Prince of Clouds; the 2016 Hindemith Prize; a 2010 Charles Ives Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; awards from Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Jerome Foundation; and prizes from ASCAP and SEAMUS. It’s an impressive list of achievements, dwarfed only by her skills in musical composition.
This Midnight Hour is an orchestral composition written by Anna Clyne. Its world premiere is fairly recent. This Midnight Hour was first performed in the Fall of 2015, at Théâtre Espace Coluche, Plaisir with the Orchestre national d’Île de France. The location of the premiere itself, and “the character and power of the lower strings of L’Orchestre national d’Île de France” is the inspiration for the opening.
Since then, it’s been played at several concerts throughout the world. It’s been played by several orchestras including the Seattle Symphony, The Edmonton Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra which can be heard below.
I first listened to it at the Winspear Centre during a concert of Tchaikovsky & Dvořák by The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. This may have been the opening to the main compositions but it’s far from filler fluff.
“This is no lightweight ‘concert opener’ but a substantial, richly imagistic score, its implicit, montage-like narrative orchestrated with a high degree of imagination.” reviews Bachtrack. Thomas May, the writer for Bachtrack is completely accurate with that remark. It’s a piece with such rich and vivid imagery.
corriendo loca por la noche pura!
–Juan Ramón Jiménez
Running crazy for the pure night!
Harmonie du soir
Voici venir les temps où vibrant sur sa tige
Chaque fleur s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir;
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!Chaque fleur s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir;
Le violon frémit comme un coeur qu’on afflige;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir.Le violon frémit comme un coeur qu’on afflige,
Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir;
Le soleil s’est noyé dans son sang qui se fige. Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir,
Du passé lumineux recueille tout vestige!
Le soleil s’est noyé dans son sang qui se fige..
Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir!
Here come the times when vibrating on its stem
Each flower evaporates as well as a censer;
The sounds and scents revolve in the evening air;
Melancholic waltz and languid vertigo! Each flower evaporates as well as a censer;
The violin quivers like a heart that is afflicted;
Melancholic waltz and languid vertigo!
The sky is sad and beautiful like a big resting place. The violin quivers like a heart that we grieve,
A tender heart, which hates the vast and black nothingness!
The sky is sad and beautiful like a large repository;
The sun has drowned in its freezing blood. A tender heart, which hates the vast and black nothingness,
From the luminous past collects all vestiges!
The sun has drowned in its freezing blood …
Your memory in me shines like a monstrance!
Drawing inspiration from these above poems, there’s a hint of the narrative but still just a hint. Lasting 12 minutes, this work of music is very imaginative.
“Whilst it is not intended to depict a specific narrative, my intention is that it will evoke a visual journey for the listener,” Explains Clyne, adding to the piece’s mystery. She has specifically provided a rich visualization and doesn’t give the audience any hint towards the intention of the narrative. It’s intentional.
The narrative I created in my mind was one of a dark forest. Visions of a dramatic chase come to the forefront as the music weaves and sprints through the dark trees. Then the melody calms down for mere moments of calming peace hiding behind a tree trunk only to rise once again with panic. And the chase continues. Throughout the entire piece, each aspect of the music ranges; tone, tempo, rhythm, dynamics. Each change causes the audience to physically follow along with their heartbeats.
This allows the audience to create whatever narrative they imagine to go along with the music. Each and every narrative is simultaneously correct.