“The reason this ballad by Brahms has haunted me for so long is because in my memory it has always sounded the same, rusting away slowly, like an object at the bottom of the ocean,” Gérard Pesson wrote about Nebenstuck. This arrangement of one of the most popular pieces of romantic music succeeds in reproducing the impression of our memory at work, obsessed as it is by a fleeting object that becomes all the more sublime because it is so vague and so difficult to capture.
Gavin Bryars, meanwhile, tries to imagine what the band on the RMS Titanic must have sounded like as the ocean steamer’s bow slowly sank in ice-filled waters, and its musicians, compelled by duty, continued to play noble hymns until the very end.
Gérard Pesson: Nebenstuck,
for clarinet and string quartet
Gavin Bryars: The Sinking of the Titanic for, string quartet and tape (1969)
Philip Glass: Violin solos from Einstein on the Beach (1976)
Christopher Fox: Clarinet Quintet, for clarinet and string quartet (1992)