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Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Dick Raaijmakers - Ballad 'Erlkönig'
I find this piece uplifting, but it sounds like Dick was maybe on a little bit of a bummer when he "wrote" it. Here's the composer in his own words (translated presumably from Dutch by Keith Freeman):
"Ballad is an epic, melodramatic piece. All the sounds which occur in it are originally radio-telegraph and radio-telephone signals: signs of survival from the slums of the realms of the ether - the domain of the short waves. Ballad is characterized by the absence of both acoustic and cultural DEPTH. It has only LENGTH (= duration) and HEIGHT (= loudness). Ballad takes place in the poor man's realm of formlessness, from where incomprehensible messages, couched in tiny signals, noises, rattles, notes, chords and voices, emerge in an unbroken stream; apparently at each other's expense, but also sometimes in unsuspected blossoming configurations, they form reflections of as many human attempts to live and to survive. This reign of shadows, where meaningful and meaningless aspects of the in origin always significant human sounds continually change places, is dominated by cries, hardly by speech, and by music not at all.
In Ballad the amalgam of these cries forms the labyrinth where Erlkönig (a ruler of the Underwold) manifests himself to a little boy, who is fatally ill and is taken by his father on a swift and wild journey on horseback through an inhospitable region of darkness and threat to a castle which holds the boy's salvation. It will be recalled that Erlkönig, the father and the little boy fail to communicate with each other satisfactorily during the journey, each of them interpreting in their own way the passing nocturnal landscape and the fate it holds in store for the boy. Ballad is an account of these events: it reproduces the ever changing moods of the three in a paramusical meeting of the linguistically rich lines of Goethe on the one side with on the other hand the linguistically impoverished multi-interpretable signals from the domain of the ether.
When the cloud of dust the father has raised across the land of those bereft of language or music has dispersed to some extent, and Erlkönig's kingdom with its fairies, lakes, noises, draperies, phantoms and illusions collapses before the eyes of the accessary boy, through what we would nowadays call a neglected cold, the singing from the ether continues uninterruptedly, passing on reports of a grey continuing existence without prospects."
recording realized in the studio of the Royal Conservatory of The Hague
The date of composition is 1966, but the record's from 1981. Does that mean this was committed to tape in '66 but not pressed on wax until '81? Thoughts and suggestions welcome.
The file is 48 megabytes, btw.