Michael Matthews

Between the Wings of the Earth

Instrumentation1111 1100 perc(1) strings(66542)
DifficultyWritten for professional chamber orchestra - moderately difficult
CommentsThe title of this piece is from a poem by the Chilean poet and Nobel prize winner Pablo Neruda. It is from a larger work entitled "The Heights of Macchu Picchu". Neruda's poem was inspired by his visit in 1943 to the ruins of Macchu Picchu, the lost Inca city high up in the Peruvian Andes, a city whose existence was rediscovered only in 1911.

The cycle deals with many issues, the prevailing one being the journey to the interior of the self in search for meaning and one's place in the world. This particular poem is an "evocation of surging nature and pre-Columbian man linked in their common dawn, and fused together by a warm instinctive love which the poet summons up from the past to transfuse the present and embrace the future" (Robert Pring-Mill, The Heights of Macchu Picchu, xvii).

A very fast opening section (primarily in 6/8 and 9/8 - @ m.m.132 to the dotted quarter) in which imitative staccatto lines lead to rapid scale passages in the winds and strings. This is followed by a slow (dotted quarter = m.m.44) 12/8 section during which a lyrical solo violin part is interspersed with flourishes of notes in the winds. Several lightly-scored espressive passages in the strings and winds lead through a somewhat more angular transition into a modified recap of the opening material. A slow section (based on previously heard material) ensues, followed by slow, osinato-based crescendo to a dramatic high point. The piece closes with a gentle, somewhat tonal coda (again derived from the opening material of the piece) primarily scored for muted strings.

Technically my piece is made up of a series of five basic ideas (stated within the first 60 bars), each of which recurs and develops independently. I see the piece as a metaphor for our (and Neruda's) experiences of nature and life as an ever changing tapestry of related and unrelated events, and our attempt to draw meaning from them.

SourcesMaterials available from the Canadian Music Centre, Montreal.

CMC Québec
1085, Côte du Beaver Hall suite 200
Montréal (Québec) H2Z 1S5

Write to Louis-Noël Fontaine at: atelier@centremusique.ca

Telephone: 514 866-3477.
HistoryCommissioned by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Simon Streatfeild, conductor. Premiered by them in March of 1993; recorded by them in September 1994 for release on BIS records, Sweden.
ContributorThe Composer, Michael Matthews, matthews@michaelmatthews.net
website: www.michaelmatthews.net

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