The Old Tower of Löbenicht

(1986, rev. 1994 )

The original ensemble version of this piece was first performed at the Almeida Festival in 1986 (and later recorded for ECM Records) and is a sketch for an instrumental interlude in a projected opera based on Thomas De Quincey's The Last Days of Immanuel Kant. It occurs at a point in the opera where Kant is disturbed at the way in which growing poplar trees have obscured the view of a distant tower which "he could not be said properly to see.. but (which) rested upon his eye as distant music on the ear - obscurely, or but half revealed to the consciousness". The owner of the trees, learning of Kant's distress, has them cropped.

This interlude, which is broadly symmetrical, represents in effect the two different states of Kant's response to his perceptions of the old tower.

Since making this first version I have revised the piece in two ways. Firstly I have re-written the solo part for my cellist, Sophie Harris. Secondly I have added a short prelude, based on John Coltrane's "After the Rain". The concert we were to have given in a beautiful outdoor courtyard in Ferrara was cancelled when a violent storm broke out just as we were about to play. This prelude ("Doppo la Pioggia") was written the next morning to open the postponed performance.

Gavin Bryars.


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