Too far

for voice, violin, cello and piano

Christopher Fox

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for voice, violin, cello and piano

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Composer Christopher Fox
Year of Composition 2006-14
Duration ca.65'
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-cf1tf1


The starting point for Too Far was a conversation with Marijje van Stralen and the musicians of the Electra ensemble in the Eerste Klas restaurant at Amsterdam Central station on 17th April 2004. We talked about a project that might involve new music by me alongside arrangements of older music, perhaps Gesualdo, perhaps Biber, but as I started to work on it I gradually realised that I wanted to write the whole work myself, and for rather different instruments.

There are fifteen pieces in the cycle, five purely instrumental; all may also be performed as individual works. Although I quickly discarded the original idea of including arrangements of other music, everything in the cycle is derived from existing music: Gesualdo (the five-part madrigal ‘O tenebroso giorno’); Biber (the tenth of his ‘Mystery’ Sonatas); Satie (the ‘Air du Grand Maître’ from his Sonneries de la Rose + Croix); Eisler (the song ‘Hotelzimmer 1942’); and the Velvet Underground (‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’). These are all transformed, mostly beyond recognition, although the Satie leaves perhaps the most audible traces.

The vocal pieces use five texts, by the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich and by the writers Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Sylvia Plath, each of which is set twice. All the texts present some sort of revelation. The extracts from Revelations of Divine Love occupy a domain between sexual and religious ecstasy, while the poems by Emily Brontë and Emily Dickinson reveal death as the portal to a higher state. In Sylvia Plath’s ‘Mirror’ the revelation is more existential and the extracts from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper reveal a mind tipping over into madness.