ochre, umber and burnt sienna
for mixed septet

Instrumentation:

flute, harp, 3 violins, 2 double basses

Duration:

16'

Year of composition:

2011

Commissioned by:

Lontano

Premiere:

Lontano/ conducted by Odaline de la Martinez

Arts & Humanities Festival 2012

Great Hall, King's College London, London, 19 October 2012

Published by:

Recorded by:

Lontano, conducted by Odaline de la Martinez (of gold and shadows, vol. 1, LORELT, LNT141)

Men have used earth pigments for depicting their imaginings since prehistoric times, but I am particularly attracted by Johannes Vermeer’s use of ochre, umber and burnt sienna in some of his paintings of women in their private spaces. While visiting a Vermeer exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, I became absorbed in a mode of looking at those portraits that involves focusing on how their expressive backgrounds – saturated with tiny strokes of earth pigments – invite us to enter domestic spaces, in which pensive women ponder and rest.

 

ochre, umber and burnt sienna is written for a septet consisting of flute, harp, three violins and two double basses. While the two double basses play in their highest register, one of the violins (with its bottom string tuned a semitone lower than usual) provides a bridge that binds the ensemble into a monochrome whole made of hues of earthy tones.

S.M.

Lontano/ conducted by Odaline de la Martinez