WNMF 3 – The Last Word

Friday, January 28, 2022, 7:30 pm CST
Centennial Concert Hall

Kelly-Marie MurphyIn the Time of our Disbelieving (2020)

Daniel Raiskin, conductor
Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

In the Time of Our Disbelieving was commissioned by I Musici de Montréal for a concert in April, 2020. It was written between December 2019 and March 2020 when there were extraordinary things going on in the world. We are in a time which has been described as a “crisis of disbelief”. There are consequences in refusing to acknowledge reality — whether about ourselves, or the world around us.

When Australian wildfires raged on and created the worst wildlife disaster in modern history, and were then followed by severe flooding, there are still those for whom climate change is not to be believed. When the news started to come out of China about a potentially deadly virus — one that actually canceled the world premiere of this piece — there are those for whom this is “fake news”. As the polls were indicating a win for the democrats in November 2020, there are those who continue to disbelieve.

Facts are there; belief is an option. – Kelly-Marie Murphy


Sofia GubaidulinaSeven Words (1982)

I. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do

II. Woman, Behold Thy Son!…Behold, Thy Mother!

III. Verily, I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with me in Paradise

IV. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

V. I thirst

VI. It is finished

VII. Father, into Thy hands I commend my Spirit


Daniel Raiskin, conductor
Yuri Hooker, cello & spoken word
Roman Yusipey, bayan
Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

The composer Sofia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol’ in the Tatar Soviet Republic in 1931 and studied the piano at the Music Academy in Kazan after the war. ln 1949 she entered the Kazan Conservatory where she studied composition with Leman and subsequently with Nikolay Peyko, a pupil of Myaskovsky and Rakov. She continued her studies with Vissarion Shebalin, another pupil of Myaskovsky. She had encouragement from Dmitry Shostakovich, who advised her to ignore hostile criticism from the official musical establishment, and earned a living in Russia principally by writing film music, while her other music was more widely heard abroad. With political changes in the Soviet Union she was able to travel outside the country, and since 1992 has lived in a small town near Hamburg.

Sieben Worte (Seven Words), for cello, bayan and strings, was written in 1982 and first performed in Moscow in the same year, with the cellist Vladimir Toncha and accordion-player Friedrich Lips, to whom the work is dedicated. The composer acknowledges her debt to long-standing cultural tradition, to which Heinrich Schütz contributed in his Die sieben Worte unseres lieben Erlb’sers und Seeligmachers Jesu Christi so er am Stamm des heiligen Creutzes gesprochen (The Seven Last Words of Our Redeemer and Saviour Jesus Christ spoken on the Holy Cross) and to which Haydn also added. The Christian basis of the work was concealed at the first Moscow performance but is clear enough, even without the present title and the composer’s own explanation. Sofia Gubaidulina explains that naturally no purely instrumental work can express the biblical text. Here there are rather, in purely instrumental sounds, metaphorical gestures and in this respect the two solo instruments, bayan and cello, and the string orchestra provided ample material: l am thinking, for example, of the long-drawn sounds of the ce//o, crossed through glissandi of the neighbouring strings. In the bayan this crossing with the orchestra takes place with the help of pressure on neighbouring keys. In the string orchestra there is the possibility of glissando crossings from unison to multi-octave textures and again back to unison (the .figure of the Cross). When the cello bow goes behind the bridge, this is, as it were, the entry to another world. These instrumental metaphors form the thematic foundation of the work, which unfolds in the course of six movements with the continual increase in tension. At the end of the sixth movement (It is accomplished) the tension is broken: the bow plays on the bridge, and in the seventh movement the bow crosses the bridge and the limits of the instrument. This basic thematic material for the solo instruments is in contrast to the music for the string orchestra, which in character is reminiscent of choral writing. To these two thematic schemes is added the threefold repetition of a five-bar quotation from the work of Heinrich Schütz, the melody of the cry “I thirst”. This figure has an essential structural function. – Keith Anderson, Naxos