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Bella Máté: Lethe - for string orchestra (2014)
score and parts
Setting: String Orchestra
Period: Contemporary Music
Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Editio Musica Budapest
Item number: B-77
Other reference: 14933
The title of the piece refers to Lethe, one of the rivers of Hades, known from Greek mythology. The meaning of the world is 'oblivion'; the dead souls were drinking from it in order to forget about their earthly life, whose memories might have poisoned their eternal life. According to tradition, river Lethe also the symbol of time as a dynamically moving, flowing, changing entity. Máté Bella's composition follows this ancent symbolic structure, the flow of this mythical river and its waves in the acoustic space created by the music. The composer prescribes an unusual arrangement of the string orchestra, reminiscent of the polychoral technique of composition of the early Baroque, with larger and smaller groups of performers. To the right and left of the podium sit string quintets (two violins, a viola, a cello and a double bass), while the center is held by a larger string ensemble (eight violins, two violas and two cellos). The musical materials for the quintets are somewhat solistic, but the parts diverge and reunite repeatedly, while becoming shorter or eventually fading out into oblivion. The workings of these resemble the waves of a river, followed by ever smaller ripples and whirls of the surface.The piece was commissioned by the Musica Viva concert series of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. (János Malina)