There is a giant tree that grows as high as a mountain, and its shadow is large enough for a couple of thousand cattle. It is not massive, is not straight, contains nothing, and cannot be used by builders or carpenters. Whereas other trees are felled for useful purposes, this one, lacking all utility, is allowed permanently to grow, undisturbed.
There is a gigantic fish that abruptly transforms itself into a gigantic bird; its back is like a great mountain, and its wings are like clouds hanging down from the sky....
In the 2000-years-old Chinese book “Zhuangzi” by the philosopher of the same name there are many similar picturesque fragments of great beauty. Even the sound of a celestial organ is described: Great Nature expels her breath, which people call wind....; or the sight of a fluttering butterfly, on account of which Zhuangzi confuses dream and reality at the moment of his awakening.
From these magical images and their imagined meanings have arisen associations called forth by the multifarious sounds of the clarinet, especially the bass clarinet, which can be produced with the aid of breath, air, the whole spectrum of overtones and conventional or unconventional techniques of playing; and the sound of rustling, as it occurs in nature, is often approached.
As an aid to musical shaping and structure I have employed the principle of Western serial technique, which is treated, however, in a very “exotic” way.
I dedicate this composition to the clarinettists Petra Stump and Heinz-Peter Linshalm, who not only gave the work a successful first performance but also stood at my side during the whole process of composition, giving me detailed technical advice.
Vienna, December 2014
Translation: Michael Talbot