Matthew Schellhorn


The Whitening (2011)
version for ondes Martenot and piano | 5' | World Premiere 2011; UK Premiere 2011; French Premiere 2012
  • SummaryOpen or Close
    Matthew Schellhorn gave the World Premiere of Siobhán Cleary's The Whitening during his 2011 tour of Ireland and England with duo "Wavetrain".
  • Programme noteOpen or Close
    'I have cap and bells,' he pondered,
    'I will send them to her and die';
    And when the morning whitened
    He left them where she went by.
    (The Cap and Bells by W.B Yeats)

    In Alchemy, the whitening stage (albedo) was a purification which followed from the harrowing, dark material of the chaotic first stage (nigredo). Psychologist Carl Jung equated the albedo as one of the stages of the process of human individuation, comparing the Whitening to the coming of dawn after a long night. Yeats foreshadowed Jung's texts on alchemy with his short prose romance “rosa alcemica” in 1896 . For Yeats, alchemy expressed the symbolist desire for a “world made entirely of essences” . Yeats poem Cap and Bells abounds with alchemical symbolism; most significant of which is the jester himself (corresponding with Jung's archetype of the trickster).
    “The Cap and Bells” was written in in 1899. Yeats writes of its conception; “ I dreamed this story exactly as I have written it, and dreamed another long dream after it, trying to make out its meaning, and whether I was to write it in prose or verse. The first dream was more a vision than a dream, for it was beautiful and coherent, and gave me the sense of illumination and exaltation that one gets from visions, while the second dream was confused and meaningless. The poem has always meant a great deal to me, though, as is the way with symbolic poems, it has not always meant quite the same thing. Blake would have said, "the authors are in eternity," and I am quite sure they can only be questioned in dreams.--1899

    This piece is dedicated to the memory of a much-missed friend; composer/pianist Frédéric Lagnau (1967–2010).

    © Siobhán Cleary
  • PerformancesOpen or Close
    19 November 2011
    The Model, Sligo, Ireland; with Nathalie Forget (ondes Martenot)
    World Premiere

    25 November 2011
    Brunel University, UK; with Nathalie Forget (ondes Martenot)
    UK Premiere

    26 January 2012
    9ème Semaine du Son, Conservatoire de Musique et d'Art Dramatique, Dunkerque, France; with Nathalie Forget (ondes Martenot)
    French Premiere
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