Raymond Deane


"Marthiya" - Rothko String Trio

'Marthiya' was composed between January and March 2005. The title refers to a form of Arabic and Persian elegiac poetry. Although it originated in the pre-Islamic period, the Marthiya later focused exclusively on the martyrdom of the Imam Hossein at Kerbala, Iraq, in the 13th century. While my piece lacks any such specific programme, its atmosphere of mourning is not unrelated to the devastation wreaked on Iraq since 2003, and on the wider carnage inflicted upon the Arab and Islamic world by the West over the last century.

Like so much of my music, 'Marthiya' begins with the elaboration of a rigid structure that is progressively weakened and ultimately dismantled. In this case the structure is based harmonically on the augmented triad (with its conscious echoes of late Liszt), and on recurrent rhythmic and dynamic cells (including silences, more important here than in most of my recent work). At first exclusively homophonic, the textures loosen to allow melodic fragments of a keening nature. Later still, a fortissimo unison pizzicato chord introduces a more mobile passage leading to a violent climax. In the final phase, all attempts to re-establish the original "stability" are defeated.

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