Winter Lightning

George Tsontakis

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Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
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Quick Overview

"Winter Lightning" (?East Coker,? the second of Eliot?s cycle)
This title is taken from ?Whisper of running streams and winter lightning.? This is perhaps the most personal and profoundly self-directed part of his tetralogy; it starts, ?In my beginning is my end,? and concludes with ?In my end is my beginning.? The profound poetic retrograde evokes a cyclical theme similar to the ?We die with the dying? quotation [?Little Gidding? - "The Dove Descending?]. The poem paints, overall, a huge descent of the things in life destined to decay and die. This death-by-decay releases a tremendous spiritual inertia (?O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark, / The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant??), an aspect which I sought to capture with music, as well. Huge orchestral passages unleash this ?descent? ? a giant musical word-painting figure which seems never to end. It dissolves only by shrinking dynamically, receding. In a spiritual sense, Eliot?s ?descent? may be a necessary loss in order to rise with the higher consciousness of love (?Love is most nearly itself when here and now cease to matter?). Ultimately, it would appear that Eliot would wish that we transcend this brooding, pessimistic atmosphere in order to move ?? into another intensity? For a further union, a deeper communion:.?
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From the time I completed the first of my "Four Symphonic Quartets", ?Perpetual Angelus? in February, 1992, until the completion of the last ?Other Echoes? in April, 1996, I had also fulfilled, intermittently, ten other commissioned works, not related to this cycle. This additional output includes two orchestral pieces as well as eight chamber works. Clearly, it was a creatively productive period of musical challenges, with an accent on deadline. One might expect that such lapses in continuity might serve to disrupt the concentrated effort on such a large work, eventually clouding the necessary unity, yet throughout the four-or-so year period the thread connecting the intent and creative integrity of these four pieces remained unsevered. On the contrary, attending to the ?non-Eliot? projects offered a welcomed respite from the major work-in-progress. It allowed time for the subconscious, conjured images to brew, re-brew and fructify, and then to transform ? somewhere deep ? in to a personal musical manifestation. Of course, it doesn?t hurt to have as a companion and stimulus, a literary masterpiece which suggests, for example, that the past, present and future might, at moments, exist simultaneously, in one deep, poetic breath.

Fortunately, opportunities to compose for this cycle arose at timely and mostly convenient intervals, vis

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Additional Information

Composition Date 1992
Duration 00:15:00
Orchestration 3(dbl. Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Hp. Str.
Premiere February 28th, 1993. Seattle Symphony, conducted by Gerard Schwarz. Seattle, Washington.

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