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Vers 4

Vers 4

for mezzo soprano and 8 instruments
(based on poems by Paul Van Ostaijen)

I don't express an opinion on whether Van Ostaijen's poems have a concrete meaning or not, yet it is obvious that his poetry pulsates with energy and sound. His Vers 4 in De Feesten van Angst en Pijn (The Feasts of Fear and Agony) inspired me to create a swirling composition for mezzo soprano and 8 instruments in which on the one hand I attempted to express my own 'comments' about the text in my music (which is required as the text verges on the absurd). On the other hand I wanted to take into account the opposite as well: now and then the music verges on the absurd (e.g. because of the virtuosity) and that will be commented (or explained) in the text. This way I want to leave room for the listener to interpret.

Vers 4 became an important work in my compositional evolution: for the first time musical 'chaos' at the beginning is dominated by its own strictly serial system, which was completely new in my music at that time. This composition is based on a 9-tone mode, yet as a consequence of different transpositions on top of each other the sounding result comes close to free atonality.

9 minutes
  • Mezzo Soprano
  • Flute
  • Clarinet in Bb
  • Horn in F
  • Bassoon
  • Violin
  • Viola
  • Violoncello
  • Double Bass
Commissioned by
Festival van Vlaanderen (Flanders Festival)


deSingel, Antwerp, Zwarte Zaal
HERMESensemble, cond. Koen Kessels