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Reflection on life and death written after the shock of losing two fathers in 1989 and 1990.
Basic materials are:
- a medieval (Dufay) cadence, plus two variations on it.
- 4 four-part chords, doubled downward in the minor seventh.
Part 1 is a desolate exposition of both themes.
Part 2, a very fast and virtuosic part, with a lot of horizontal movement, in reference to French organ music (Vierne, Duruflé).
Part 3, a lot of pedal; echoes from the pedal part from Bach’s ‘Durch Adam’s fall’, countered by ever more intense chordtrills.
Part 4, miniature, a voice that keeps trying to reach the A natural.
Once resting on the A, 2 outer-voices appear, slowly moving around an inner voice.
Part 5, a short and up-tempo commentary on the ‘Retrové’ from the ‘Codex of Robertsbridge’, the oldest known musical manuscript for keyboard instruments.
Part 6, the most complex part of the cycle: playing with 3 motives, coolly and naively rotating around each other, surrounded by silence. After a few minutes, a quiet foreign body acts as a bridge to the next phase, in which the 3 motives begin to fold into each other. The music develops on different planes and builds to a climax.
Then a chorale starts building up, from 1- to 8-parts, based on the 4 basic chords of the piece, with more Dufay-cadences at the end.
In part 7, the sustained A turns up again, continuously PPP as an internal pedal point.
A melody in free meter revolves around this tonic, diverging from it and returning.
In part 1, 4 and 7 a trumpet briefly joins in.
A voice from the land of breath that colours and alienates exactly when needed.
The original version of ‘Arena’ from 1991 lasted 90 minutes, but after a revision in 1993 its length was reduced to 70 minutes.
The parts can be performed separately.
The work is currently subject to a s.