No 6 Chant Ascendant (1995)
Commissioned by: Nieuw Ensemble and Netherlands Fund for the Creation of Music
First Performance: Nieuw Ensemble & Ingrid Ade Jesemann, November 1995, Grote Zaal Vredenburg, Utrecht. Cond. Ed Spanjaard
Instrumentation: 2 sopranos + flute, oboe, clarinet, guitar, mandolin, harp, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano and 2 percussion.
Special Features: Performance requires ca. 10 timpani.
Chant Ascendant is a very extreme piece, written on a text by the French poet Jacques Prévert, in which two sopranos frantically rattle off an ascending ‘shopping list’ of articles at turbo-speed. The 141 page score was set for the unlikely combination of the, usually delicate Nieuw Ensemble, the two sopranos and a battery of up to ten Timpani. The work is part of a small cycle of pieces I wrote between 1994 and 1995, for sopranos and different instrumental setups, which also include the works Chant Négatif and Chant Descendant and are all set to texts by Prévert.
Like Comfort, for Orchestra six years later, Chant Ascendant at its premiere also proved to be a highly contested piece in its youthful insouciance, with fierce sides taken in various national papers. Given the extremity of the vocal part in its original form (for a single soprano, heroically performed by the late Ingrid Ade Jesemann), the work was later rescored for two sopranos, which proved a good deal more manageable.