Did you undergo any personal or creative transformations in the early part of your career?
Yes. In 1994, I wrote Transform, which marked a transition to different, newer material. It was at this moment that the Word became a part of my music and work. The Word permeated the fabric of my music, which had formerly operated strictly within the categories of sound. After this work, it was as if the Word began to take root in me. My music changed dramatically.
Are any of your works exemplary in this regard?
Poverty, written in 2013. The name alone tells you very much. This period in my career, so closely bound to the Word, is more ascetic. You could say that asceticism replaced the color and brilliance that had previously dominated my music.
Do you mean poverty of soul?
Yes, spiritual poverty, as it is called in the Gospels—but not only that. I set the verses of Zinaida Mirkina in the music:
A certain silence works within us, and all our needs disappear.
The mind just shrinks, the heart expands . . .
In the beginning the world is born, and enters a breast . . .
There are no separations, no sins, the soul without a sound . . .
It’s poverty, the same that is made sacrosanct.
You consider Poverty to be one of your fundamental works. But listeners cannot completely distinguish its poetry over the sound of the music. There are several reasons for this: first, the syllables are sung in isolation, making it impossible to gather them into an audible unity; second, the tempo is slow, as if time itself were stretched out. It’s true that many listeners experience this work as being at the extreme limit of meditativeness in music. Do you agree with them, even if you don’t experience it that way yourself?
The words become submerged and drowned in the musical text: they dissolve, they cease to be audible, and nevertheless, they are present. Like drops falling into the ocean, they become the ocean itself. The words are mysterious, detached. Here there is a slow, as if eternal, present. The words are concealed. A mystery submerged in the matter of the music. In a certain sense, this music is not for listening, but for contemplation.
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