Dane Rudhyar

Dane Rudhyar: Five Stanzas for String Orchestra (1927), Epic Poem for Piano (1979)

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AllMusic Review by "Blue" Gene Tyranny

Performed by the Sinfóníuhljómsveit Aeskunnar and conducted by Paul Zukofsky, this piece was written in 1927, and scored in early 1928. The composer wrote of the "poem" Five Stanzas for string ensemble that he had "no story or personal drama in mind when I composed it." The music is nevertheless a completely subjective music of dramatic emotions: "it is meant to speak directly to the inner nature...it is never 'made' as an object according to...patterns." Theoretically, the piece is an excellent exposition of his idea of "dissonant harmony," and of "music of speech," and-- which is built from the accumulation of gestures as distinguished from music based on dance rhythms. For example, the fifth and concluding stanza, a Moderato and the longest of the movements, opens with wild telegraphic figures in fifths above tortuous development in the lower strings. Then the lower strings tremolo and move in deep rumbling counterpoint while the upper strings play widely octave-ranging, speech-like and wildly declamatory passages. Out of this comes a brief coda of a gigantic chord in fifths that covers the entire tessiturae of the strings, that is reiterated gradually slower, stretching the telegraphic rhythm of the opening. A truly breath-taking movement.