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The Emotional Climate of the Raga - Viktor Suslin's New Work

Receives Premiere in Asiago

Viktor Suslin celebrated his sixtieth birthday on 13 June 2002. From 8 until 13 August 2002 his works will be presented in the form of a large forum during the course of the Asiago Festival (near Vicenza) in Italy. Amongst the works premiered on 11 August were "Mobilis" for violoncello solo and "Chanson contre raison" for violoncello and piano. On 9 August Alexander Suslin (double bass) and Friedemann Herz (organ) will premiere Suslin's new composition "Raga" for double bass and organ.

Suslin has provided the following commentary on his work:

"The word 'raga' (from 'ranj' = to dye, redden; Sanskrit) has a historical and a modern meaning. The modern meaning of the word is sensing, the feeling that the music suggests to the person who perceives it. In traditional Indian music, raga is a vocal or instrumental music in a certain mode and with a very definite, concrete emotional expression (e.g. there is a morning raga, an evening raga; there are ragas for longing, suffering, love and passion, etc.). The character of the tone and the kind of performance delivery are very important, because they determine the emotional "climate" of the raga.

"Besides this, the raga provides a very clear musical form. In general it consists of an extended improvisatory introduction and a large second part in which the rhythm plays a significant role. In the instrumental raga, the solo melody instrument (e.g. the sitar or veena) usually begins in the lowest register; then the melody climbs gradually higher, reaching the highest tones at the end.

"Whoever hears my piece will immediately notice that there is no external similarity whatsoever between my music and the traditional raga. The double bass is certainly not similar to a sitar, nor is the organ a mridangham. I am not interested in the "externals" but rather in the inner nature of the raga and its form. It seems to me that this genre possesses metaphysical and constructive characteristics that allow it to use instruments and modes having nothing to do with India - without destroying its essential nature."