“In conceiving the piece Azul, Golijov knew immediately that he didn't want to write a virtuoso solo showcase for Yo-Yo Ma, who has many such pieces already in his repertoire. Rather he chose to eschew bombast for contemplation, and wrote a work that is not a concerto, somewhat in the sphere, Golijov says, of Berlioz's non-concerto for viola Harold in Italy, although here there is no literary impulse behind the music. Among the various ways the composer has thought about Azul is as a 21st-century Baroque adagio, such as those by Handel or Bach. In fact it is the French Baroque composer Couperin who, as in others of Ma's pieces, stands as a model. Azul began as a reconsideration of Golijov's earlier Tenebrae for soprano and string quartet, which itself is based partly on the melismatic settings of Hebrew letter names in Couperin's Leçons de Tenebrae. Golijov wanted to "evoke the majesty of certain Baroque adagios," and recapture for the present that ability of the late Baroque composers to suspend time without stopping motion in their music, and to achieve somehow for himself the special light-filled airiness that one hears in Couperin. …
In creating this unique sound-world Golijov's aim for Azul is to establish an environment sympathetic to communal silence, where the music onstage ebbs and flows through "emergences and submersions" that suggest different levels of focus on the part of the listener. The notion of an orchestra receptive of musical energy is an idea that expands to take in the audience, and expands yet further to take in the space beyond the audience, in a gathering of quiet energy refocused on a soloist playing a cello and a group of musicians on a stage.”
© Robert Kirzinger for the Boston Symphony Orchestra 2006.
Yo Yo Ma's performance of Golijov's Azul, with the National Symphony orchestra this evening, is sold out.
Photo credit: Odesa, Ukraine, Future European Union. (c) Copyright controlled 2007. All rights reserved.