Phantom of the Dreams’ Origin for chamber Ensemble

By Barbara Harbach
Published: 2012
Catalogue Number: MS 1259

Phantom of the Dreams’ Origin for chamber ensemble sets to music a selection of prose poems from Embirikos’ 1935 masterpiece Blast Furnace, which Nikos Stabakis translated into English in his anthology Surrealism in Greece [University of Texas Press, 2008]. The work is divided into eight movements, each named after a phrase from Stabakis’ translation of Embirikos. The score is dramatically percussive throughout, with musical features calling for glockenspiel, castanets, triangle, bell tree, crotales, timpani and suspended cymbals.

I. Procession – A solemn and plaintive procession, with fluctuating tempos, dissenting harmonies, and increasing drama.

II. Lamentation – The flute and cello open with complex Middle East rhythms, followed by a middle section with a syncopated ostinato in the lower strings. Later, various other instruments contribute to the Middle East complexity.

III. Semaphores – Semaphores is a system of signaling, so the instruments signal each other through the staggering entrances of a fugue in 5/4 meter, while a broad clarinet melody flows over the imitation, sometimes whimsical and playful, with alternating meters of 5/4 and 6/8.
IV. Desolation – A lone cry against adversity, sometimes comforted by the rhythm of a slow tango, but ending with defiant acquiescence.

V. Deprived – Driving and pulsating rhythms contrast with expressive melodies, followed by sweet lyricism and ostinatos, ending with exuberant pulsations.

VI. Tranquility – In 6/8 meter, the melodies are reminiscent of the innocence of childhood when all was enchanting and calm, and the future troubles far away.

VII. Polyhedral bell – The polyhedral bell is a three-dimensional geometric figure formed of many faces. The lush sonorities weave a spell as the melodies go from instrument to instrument.

VIII. Spinning Mill of Nocturnal Repose – Rhythmic, fugal, with spritely and playful interpolations of syncopated rhythms.