aus Partitur 'Vier Figuren'

Canzona ad astra (2023)

for baritone, clarinet and cello

The stars have fascinated me since childhood, and my interest in the starry sky and the knowledge associated with it also left their mark on my compositional work, for example in the orchestral work "SN 1993 J" about a supernova (1995) or in the ensemble composition "anomalia Lunae media" (2007) dedicated to the Swiss polymath Leonhard Euler.
In my new composition "Canzona ad astra" for baritone, clarinet and violoncello, I focused on the thoughts of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) and set three texts from him to music in three vocal-instrumental pieces. These texts deal with aspects such as the structure of snow crystals, the scientist's experiences during his fictitious ascent of the Atlas Mountains and his address to the new star of the year 1604.
These topics, which seem different at first glance, are connected by a hidden thought about the mystery of creation and the beauty that results from it. But it is also about human imperfection and the limited possibilities of knowledge. This last aspect is most evident in the writing "Strena seu De Nive Sexangula" (New Year's Gift, or Of the Hexagonal Snow), which Kepler dedicated to his friend and patron, the Imperial Councillor and patron of the sciences and philosophy Johann Matthäus Wacker von Wackenfels. In this work, the "nothing" (as the unknowable) appears in various symbolic facets - finally as a rapidly disappearing, beautiful hexagonal snowflake. I have set to music the four verses of Kepler's dedication to his friend, written in Latin.
In the song "De Nive Sexangula", titled after Kepler's work, I refer to Kepler's thoughts in terms of compositional technique by symbolically expressing his thoughts through certain combinations of numbers or structures.
In this composition, the baritone voice is used very sparingly. It contains only the core messages, the contents of which are then further processed instrumentally.
The composition was commissioned by the Bern Music Festival for a concert entitled "Celestial Mechanics", accompanied by a conversation with the astronomer Rudolf von Steiger.
Bettina Skrzypczak