|Sofia Gubaidulina in 1969 speaking at a Moscow Youth Musical Club concert|
The work is composed in the form of seven descending steps: the orchestral timbre and tone color undergo gradual transformation, moving downward from high to low register. A moment of stasis and rest marks the end of each episode. The descending motion is enhanced by a continual expansion of the sound spectrum: from the cold, impersonal sonority of the instruments at the beginning to the rich sound palette of a thirty-part string section at the climax, and, finally, all the way to the dark, chaotically vibrant whisper of the human voice at the seventh step. At this point each member of the orchestra speaks the opening lines of "Vom Tode Mariae," from Rilke's poetic cycle Das Marienleben:
In this recording of the piece, the spoken text is by overlapping speakers and, I believe, is delivered in Russian. Blogger won't embed the YouTube clip for some reason, so just follow the link. Currently there are only 48 views of this piece!The same great angel, who onceBrought to her tidings of her birth,Stood there, waiting for her attention,And said: “Now is the time for you to appear.”
I'm still not sure why I find the music of Gubaidulina so listenable even when it uses the most advanced sorts of textures and idioms. But I do. Perhaps it is because tying together all these technical devices is an underlying musical purpose and design.