Richard Barrett – close-up for six performers (2013-15)
for recorder, trumpet, accordion, harp, cello and electronics
total duration: approximately 66 minutes
all instruments are amplified; the electronic part is also played from the stage; a stereo or 4-channel amplification system is required.
(from the performance in 2021. in Zrenjanin)
' Close-up is the result of a close collaboration between myself and Ensemble Studio6 which began in April 2013. It consists of the following parts: tendril for harp and electronics; codex I a for sextet; pauk for trumpet and accordion; codex XII a for sextet; nachtfalter for recorder, harp, cello and electronics; and šuma for sextet. The electronic part is written for myself and is an equal element in the ensemble with the acoustic instruments played by the other instrumentalists. The two codex pieces were originally written independently of the cycle, and new versions will be written as part of close-up which will fix the (previously open) instrumentation and overlap with the pieces on either side. These as well as tendril and pauk have already been performed several times by the musicians of Ensemble Studio6. Each component explores a different angle on the relationship between pre-composed and spontaneous musical actions – sometimes one, sometimes the other, sometimes in distinct combinations and sometimes merging together. These different approaches are employed for their complementary expressive and structural possibilities, so that the complete close-up unfolds in multiple processes of growth and evolution from the “tendril” of the opening to the dense and interwoven “forest” of the final part. While not being in any way programmatic or illustrative, many aspects of close-up derive from a contemplation of natural and biological phenomena (relating ultimately to my own early training as a biologist before devoting myself to music) and in particular of the ephemeral interventions into the natural world embodied in the sculptures of Andy Goldsworthy, conceiving musical materials as something analogous to the leaves, icicles, thorns and stones which Goldsworthy selects from the natural environment and then returns to it in such a way that the viewer sees them differently from that point on. My materials of course are intangible sounds, and my natural environment is the world of musical possibilities implicit in an ensemble like this one, individually and collectively. In the words of Cornelius Cardew: Musicality is a dimension of perfectly ordinary reality. The musician's pursuit is to recognize the musical composition of the world.'
by Richard Barrett
Parts of close-up have been widely performed in Europe, the UK, the US and Australia.
The complete cycle was performed in Belgrade (2016), London, Oxford, Leeds (2018), Niš, Zrenjanin (2021).
The last two performances were recorded for a CD, to be released by Metier/Divine Art Recordings in 2023.
The project was supported by the Ministry of Culture in Serbia and Hinrichsen and Ralph Vaughan Williams Foundations in the UK.
TV review (in Serbian RTS, 2016.)