27.8.2019, 21:30, Cathedral of the Divine Saviour
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ONO / Ostrava New Orchestra
Canticum Ostrava and guests
Jurij Galatenko, Choirmaster
Petr Kotík, Conductor
Yves Klein: Symphonie - "Monotone-SIlence" (1960)
Yves Klein can be considered one of the first conceptual artists. According to the French composer Éliane Radigue, Klein came up with the idea for Symphonie –“Monotone-Silence”on a summer night with Radigue and the French artist Arman on a beach in South France (Klein and Arman were natives of Nice). The three of them – based on what Ms. Radigue told Petr Kotík in 2016, when he was preparing for a performance of this composition – experimented with their voices that night, attempting to produce a drone. Ms. Radigue then suggested a major triad (she was the only one of the three with a music education). Klein later remarked that it was during this period (1947–1948) that his concept of the Monotone Symphony was born, which, according to him “...expresses exactly what [he has] been striving hard to accomplish all [his] life.” Yves Klein is known as a pioneer who influenced pop and minimal art. His Symphonie - “Monotone-Silence”offers a remarkable experience, which can only be fully appreciated in a live performance. Tuesday, August 27, will be the Czech premiere.
The first thing that comes to mind for most people when they hear the name Yves Kleinis the piercing and deep ultramarine blue, which this painter and conceptual artist often employed in his monochromatic paintings. The colour is so deeply connected to him that it was even given its own name, International Klein Blue (IKB). We can, of course, find different colours in Klein’s works as well (pink and gold were important to him too); nevertheless, IKB probably best fulfilled the author’s desire for his paintings to emit a certain energy and draw the viewer in. Even though his career did not last long (the peak of his creativity was from 1954–1962 and he died prematurely at the age of 34), Klein was a deep influence on the art movements to come (such as pop art and minimal art) and his creative output even left its mark on music. Klein’s conceptual compositionMonotone–Silence Symphony could be perceived as a kind of sound analogy to his monochromatic paintings. The composition is 40 minutes long and it is divided into two parts of the same duration. In the first half, we hear only a D Major chord. In the second half, “silence” sets in, which feel, after the previous outstretched sound field, almost tangible and gloomy. Klein’s composition thereby becomes a remarkable, nearly existential experience, which can be grasped in full only in a concert performance. In Monotone–Silence Symphony Klein completely disregards musical tradition, and is essentially concerned with implementing his artistic vision as precisely as possible; what he strived for in his work was for art to become “immaterial,” to free the soul. This idea manifests itself in diverse ways in his works. For instance, of noticeable importance is Klein’s photographic performance Leap into the Void from 1960. In this image we can see Klein “fly upwards” after his leap from a high wall. It is of course a photomontage and there were several men standing with a safety tarpaulin below the artist. Nevertheless the photography persuasively demonstrates his fascination with freeing the soul from its material constraints. Hence, while listening to Monotone–Silence Symphony we should not be scared of “leaping into the void” (or “silence”) like Klein, as there is always the chance that we will not fall, but “rise”.