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wo gegen wart, 15. Januar
(not easy to translate: wo = where, gegen = against, wogegen = whereas, wart = (you) was, Gegenwart = present)
music for violin and trombone

ca. 17 Min.
composed and premiered 1991
→ Download pdf 1085 kB
→ Video with score, recording 1993 Bremen, Ulrich Bösking - vl, Jan-Peter Sonntag - tbn.


After extensive preparations and studies of the tonal possibilities of this duo line-up since September 1990, I wrote the piece within 6 days after January 15, 1991 - certainly moved and influenced by the events around this date.
January 15, 1991 was the last day of the ultimatum of the USA before the start of the 2nd Gulf War against Iraq. The time before 15 January was marked on the one hand by a great war propaganda media spectacle and on the other hand by mass demonstrations and actions all over the world against the start of this war.

The composition pursues an aesthetic of the isolated event and cultivates the pause as a musical means of differentiated expressiveness. Miniature single cells join together to create a form that questions the sense of time. I use a very simple musical form: A - A' - B - A''. It is relatively rare that both instruments play at the same time. Instead, there are often continuations - one instrument begins, the other picks up and continues. Almost every musical particle is "translated" for the other instrument. These "translations" can create very different distances between the instruments - from almost identical to the greatest contrast. The second part (A') forms a simple inversion of the instruments to A: Everything that was played by the violin in A is played by the trombone in A'. In A'', the figures are again divided between both instruments, so that the whole part leads to an even shorter sequence. In between there are common duo sections in which different forms of vibrato - volume vibrato, pitch vibrato, timbre vibrato, instrumentally different generated vibrato (e.g. lip and slide vibrato on the trombone), beats and vibrato of different speeds - as well as percussive playing techniques are combined.
The individual events with their very specific characteristics, as well as the resulting expectations of what is to come, determine the emotional characteristics of the following pauses: pauses for breathing, breathless pauses, simple pauses for rest, longed-for pauses for rest, funny breaks, shocky breaks, punctuation, unexpected punctuation, cold pauses for emphasis, hot or charged pauses for emphasis, tension pauses, pauses before the storm, flat waiting pauses, nighttime pauses for dreaming ...


First performance:
1991, June 25th: Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg, → Ulrich Bösking - violin and → Jan-Peter Sonntag - trombone

Further performances:
1991, October 6th: Schloß Münster, s.a.
1992, December 2nd: Cäcilienschule Oldenburg, s.a.

1993, January 14th: Radio Bremen; s.a.

1993 July 5: Radio Bremen 2
1993, October 27th: Radio Bremen 2


Nordwest-Zeitung of Dec. 4th, 1992, to the concert of Dec. 2nd

A concert with contemporary music
Concentration and silence: musical
by → Christiane Maaß

Oldenburg. The practice of reducing the materials used in New Music can lead to two opposing movements in the musical result: on the one hand to an intensification of the statement in its concentration, on the other hand to a process of its dissolution to the limit of silence. This "dialectical" process of reduction could be followed again in an extremely exciting way in the most recent "oh ton" concert in the Cäcilienschule, entitled "Zeiten zwischen rauh". All the compositional works realized on this evening, in addition to processes of reduction, compression and reduction, were of such a fragile character that the audience was sometimes required to be extremely sensitive and attentive. (...)
Friedemann Schmidt-Mechau's "wo gegen wart, 15. Januar", written in 1991 in reaction to the beginning of the Gulf War, took many of the approaches of the two players (violin: Ulrich Bösking; trombone: Jan-Peter Sonntag) to relate to each other back to silence in its heavily interspersed layout. In repeatedly interrupted and resumed attempts at rapprochement and understanding, the silence, which at first seemed desolate and oppressive, was finally transformed into a common, eloquent one. (...)