quintet for string quartet and clarinet


- Canzona
- Arabeska
- Lacrimosa canon
- Vrtka
- Arboretum

Duration: 25’

Premiere: Michel Lethiec, clarinet / Zemlinsky Quartet: František Souček, Petr Střížek, violins, Petr Holman viola, Vladimír Fortin violoncello, Czech Center Paris, November 28th, 2017

Extract from the score:


Notes on the work:

A major chamber music piece, Arboretum of Time is composed for one of the most seductive instrumental chamber music ensembles: the quintet for strings and clarinet. This formation naturally gives the work its specific colours as well as a great variety of characters - sound spaces that are both intimate, transcendent and dramatic.

“The title of this work evokes for me a place of nature and research, a symbolic place that brings together the diversity of the world and preserves it with its differences. The figure of the tree is connected to the notion of solid roots and branches that rise to the sky, seeking light, just as a work of art tends towards an ideal. Each tree hides in its interior rings of growth, lines, curves that evoke the passing of time.” describes Kryštof Mařatka.

The musical writing of this quintet with clarinet is conceived as an accumulation of “rings of growth”, in connection with the notion of space-time, the cycles of life of nature and of man in nature, birth and rebirth. The work consists of 5 very musically contrasted movements:

Canzona, with its melismatic and lyrical fluidity, evokes the juvenile branch, the tender root that grows.

Arabeska is based on ornamentation and sequenced as gestures of a young dancer, hands outstretched to the sky like a trunk of a tree in full expansion.

Lacrimosa-canon is an entirely polyphonic movement, unique in the whole work; time stops, or rather thanks to the continuous and unchanged pulsation, it installs a sensation of continuity, of a powerful and inevitable order. In this movement, the “growth rings” are distributed horizontally; each instrument has its own life, each instrument depends only on itself, the instruments are equal. A true polyphony emerges, in the form of a canon, a canon of vital force. Vital force linked to Lacrimosa, where tears of sadness and of joy meet.

Vrtka is a popular Czech dance, from the term Vrtka meaning to wriggle, hence its association with the jig. This movement operates a total change in the work; we go back to life to enjoy it. Each instrument offers a short motif which is immediately taken up with an accompaniment from the others, then developed. The musical discourse is very rhythmic and virtuoso, with unusual modes of playing.

Arboretum is the final part of the work. In this movement, the sequences of the “rings of life” are the most pronounced; the musical plot is therefore rather contrasted and reinforces the “dramatic” character. The score is constructed as a walk in an arboretum: very varied trees (fragments) are linked in an organized space, designed to appreciate the infinite diversity of Nature, of Life.