Paweł Hendrich Sedimentron (2012) for Ensemble

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Orchestration: flute (also piccolo), oboe, clarinet (also bass clarinet), bassoon (also contrabassoon) – horn, trumpet (also piccolo trumpet), trombone – percussion, piano (also MIDI keyboard) – 2 violins, viola, violoncello

What and who is a human being is influenced by many factors. Cultural background, historical premises or position in the society – all of this contributes to what we become. Paweł Hendrich compares the process of identity formation with the process of sedimentation. Even myths and legends sediment, as Hendrich elaborates on his thoughts, then they are layered and in the end they stratify. The present stirs a substance up and it later sediments as a myth in the foundation of cultural identity. In the outline of this foundation the history of a culture can be read and reconstructed and thus the question of one´s own identity can be answered as well. However, Hendrich is not interested in the question of the Polish itself, but in the processes as they are. His work Sedimentron is a sedimentation which turned into sound. The title itself is a portmanteau that connects the Latin sedimentum with the Greek word for measure, metron. Therefore, not only that the process of sedimentation and stabilization is described, but it is also measured, and here the ambiguity of scientific and musical measure, namely in objective measurements on one hand and clearly structured time signatures on the other hand, is certainly not accidental.

Hendrich begins his work with different layers of material. The woodwind players work through a series of breathing and damper sounds, the flute with overtone glissandos and whistle tones, oboe and bassoon with air noise, the clarinet with a pizzicato sound. The brass players open and close their bell with a damper in order to create the famous wah-wah effect and the strings drum on the sound box of their instruments. At the same time, all of these sound levels contain something temporary, unfinished, and emergent. Everything moves. Even the knocking has something palpating and listening that underlines even more the scientific and investigating characteristic style of the piece. The individual levels of material go through various states in which the fleeting and the volatile prevail. The sound moments even seem almost ghostly at times, like a ghost from the past, such as when the strings intonate fragile flageolet sounds with an arch which is wandering between the bridge and the fingerboard. In the further course of the work Hendrich gradually changes individual parameters, shifts the pitch levels, rhythms and meters, timbre and sonority in order to hint at the transitions of colours and textures that are visible in a geological profile.

Hendrich belongs to one of the few composers of the myths project that enlarge the ensemble with an electronic instrument, even though the MIDI keyboard is used here only to control the sounds of a Rhodes electric piano. The Rhodes, an electro-mechanical instrument from the 1960s with a bright bell-like sound was mostly used in the pop music by bands such as the Doors. The usage of this instrument is an enrichment of the timbre, however, probably also an allusion to the myths and legends that are connected with the pop culture in the 20th century.

It is significant that the piece, which aimed to penetrate the historical layers of one´s own identity, does not end with a stable and jointly presented passage. It is not a large hymnal unison which completes the measurement of the myths and legends. On the contrary, it is a separation process and an individualization of one single voice.
Sedimentron is dedicated to the Polish musicologist Andrzej Chłopecki who worked for the project as a scout and who died in the autumn of 2012.

Paweł Hendrich was born in 1979 in Wroclaw. In addition to his graduation from the University of Economics in Wroclaw he also studied composition at the local Karol Lipiński Music Academy with Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil. His studies led him also to York Höller at the College of Music in Cologne in 2005-2006.

Hendrich received numerous awards and scholarships, among others he participated in a development programme of the Krzysztof Penderecki European Music Centre. His compositions were repeatedly on the programme of various music festivals, such as the Warsaw Autumn and the Audio Art Festival in Krakow and Warsaw. He has performed live electroacoustic music for many years so far.
Björn Gottstein
works as a freelance journalist about contemporary and electronic music. He lives in Berlin.

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