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New Vocal Music by Daniel Smutny

The young Mannheim composer Daniel Smutny has had recourse to an historical vocal music genre in his madrigal book for 24 singers entitled “Velouria.” The work will receive its world premiere on 14 February 2010 at the Festival “ECLAT” in Stuttgart, performed by the SWR Vocal Ensemble Stuttgart.
The term “Velouria” could be associated with a song of the same title by the group “Pixies,” but that was only indirectly Smutny’s intention. In his new piece, he has combined poems of Friedrich Hölderlin and Georg Trakl with new settings of individual lyrics by Uphill Racer. Smutny’s music sounds “vellutato,” which means more or less as if “behind a curtain.” Through the group polyphony of the 24 singers, who serve the composer not only as a double stage floor but also as a possibility of expressing contradictions, the material hereby attains an unavoidable intensification, a kind of “forward movement,” as Smutny says, e.g. in view of the dark spaces in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” – a curtain without anything behind it, a curtain that draws in and swallows.”

“In the car you don´t speak
all the way you don´t move
because you know
the sun is coming out“

“Blind and aware
it is not you who is moving
it´s the world”
(lyrics by uphill racer)

For Smutny, “Velouria” is also a reminiscence of the time during which he himself performed as a chamber choir singer. He particularly had the villanella madrigal book “Triaca Musicale” of Giovanni Croce, composed in 1596, in mind. “Velouria” takes as its starting point this work’s specific declamatory expression, marked by a homophonic rhythmic language bound to the text. “All other musical characteristics,” Smutny continues, “are subordinated to this, so that voices are supported in their direct address, just as I once found in the art of the madrigal book.”

Theaterhaus, 7 PM
World premiere: Daniel Smutny
„Velouria. Madrigal book for 24 singers“
ECLAT Festival, SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart


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