Round Corners
music for violin and cello

ca. 12-20 Min.
composed and first performance 2004
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→ Recording 2004 Dresden, Uta-Maria Lempert - vl and Matthias Lorenz - cello.


This is the first of three duos for the → elole piano trio. These duos show a close connection regarding their musical basic material: There are two different twelve-tone rows - one for each instrument, with their permutations. Here the violin uses a twelve-tone all-interval row, which is related to the famous Nono's scissors row - it is divided into three parts and reassembled differently.

For the cello there is another twelve-tone series consisting of only two different intervals, namely major thirds and fourths (or their inversions), with the fourths mirroring correspondingly minor sixths and minor seconds.

In addition, there are a limited number of performance possibilities for all three pieces, depending on the nature of their combination of individual parts. However, the three pieces are completely different.

Round Corners consists of three different types of material, which are to be put together by the musicians according to certain rules. A different combination must be chosen for each performance. The materials are:

A 1-8: Small scenic actions or texts to be spoken. (see below)
B 1-8: Sections, each with seven different musical particles, which are only arranged in the game. There are a total of eight different basic forms, which are distributed in varying degrees over the eight pages.
C 1-8: A linear sound process, a sound that changes evenly over its duration and is interrupted four times.
Each musician performs four of these parts. In total only half of the composed material B and C is performed.
The parts are put together in a fixed order: C-A-B, C-A-B, ... The last B and the first C of the next group overlap each other, so they are played by both players in any case.

As an example, the sequence of the first performance is given here:

Violin: C1 A1 B8      C5     C3 A4 B7     B2  A6  C6    B4  A8
              |      | \    |      |    / | /  \ | \  / | /  \
Cello:        C8 A2 B1  A3 B4      C7 A5  C2    B5  A7  C4    B6

This sequence produces a very strict musical form that opposes the extempore arrangement of the individual parts. Thus, one cannot speak of improvisation in this piece - perhaps contrary to its outward appearance. And the question, which is often asked in such a context, whether one can hear the “open form”, the change of combinations in a one-time performance, seems to me to miss the point. Because this musical order is directed at the musicians. For them, the question of the arrangement of the particles, just like the change of combinations, is an element that makes this piece impossible to complete. This is perhaps the first time that I have succeeded in finding what I have long been searching for: a possibility to integrate the openness and multiplicity of interpretation into the musical performance itself.
For the listener this question is irrelevant. Its effects contribute to a broadening of the referential level by placing the materials in the foreground of the musicians' playing. The actions and texts add an external level of reference to the musical relationships, the possibilities of interpretation are concretized and simultaneously multiplied.

The actions and texts are:
1. the player stands up, takes a few steps to the front edge of the playing surface and operates an electric switch (without function) there and goes back to his place.
2. the player takes some dice, throws them on a small table and looks at the result.
3. the player stands up, puts the instrument aside, stands still frontally to the audience for a while and then speaks rather slowly: “Don't look so expectant! It is your expectation that narrows the line between the incomprehensible and the obvious.” (after Karl Kraus)
4. the player takes a wide, red gift ribbon, pulls it under the strings, puts it around his instrument and ties it over the ribbon to a nice bow. 5. the player searches ..., looks for something between his notes, around his chair, possibly in his trouser pocket etc. Finally he finds what he is looking for on his seat: a key (please use a big old key with a beard!), looks at it and then puts it on the ground in front of him. 6. the player looks at the scroll of his instrument. Then he follows the contours of the snail with his index finger, beginning on the outside. 7. the player turns - without getting up, the instrument in his hands - to the audience and asks them: “Aren't you wasting your time in this land of discord?” (after Tomás Eloy Martínez)
8. the player loosens the red bow from the instrument (see 4.), takes the key, collects the dice lying on the table, if possible also the electric switch, and throws everything into a large pot, which stands at the front edge of the playing surface.


First performance:
2004, July 7th: Portrait concert Friedemann Schmidt-Mechau of the → elole-Klaviertrio, Albert Hall, Dresden; → Uta-Maria Lempert, vl and → Matthias Lorenz, cello