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Alexander Shchetynsky

Martha and Mary
for 8 Cellos
(2009)

...he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, 
Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 
And Jesus answered and said unto her, 
Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, 
which shall not be taken away from her.
Luke 10, 38-42

A life paradigm of fleeting and eternal became the program motto of the piece Martha and Mary. I aimed at finding musical reflection of the symbolic sense of the Gospel story that contains many semantic layers and has been a complex source of meditations, interpretations and works of art for centuries.

The piece consists of five sections performed attacca. It utilizes 12-tone scale extended with quarter tones interpreted as melodic or harmonic alteration of the main 12 degrees. Also some consonances and soft dissonances inherited from traditional tonality are integrated into this tonal system. Another important element is the space movement of the sound from one instrument to the others in canonic imitations of the motives and phrases. In the 4th section (quasi-fugue) the whole theme and its variations undergo spatial movement.

The work was premiered by the Ensemble Cellonet conducted by Andrzej Bauer on October 2, 2009 in Lviv at the 15th International Contemporary Music Festival Contrasts.

Alexander Shchetynsky


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2009 by Alexander Shchetynsky