African Journal No 15
Dedicated to Marianne Mezger and Paul Simmonds
Commissioned by the Arts Council of England for Trio Basiliensis
Publisher: Bardic Edition
Score and Parts BDE 797
Duration: 13 minutes
First performance: Saturday 23 July 2011; NG Church, Franschoek, South Africa; Trio Fibonacci.
“Carpet of Memory” was begun in December 1994 on a visit to the Tunisian coastal town of Hammamet where Paul Klee, August Macke and Louis Moilliet had spent time in 1914 a few months before the outbreak of World War I. It was after this visit that Klee painted “Teppich der Erinnerung”, a dirty ochre ground applied to untreated cotton that prompted art historian Susanna Partsch to suggest we might read the picture “like an ancient carpet on which mysterious signs recall past ages and cultures”.
What had struck Klee so much about Tunisia was the landscape, the architecture, the southern light and the colours, and my own experiences of these are what I brought to the music, while remembering also that Klee had been a fine violinist and keen chamber music player.
“Carpet of Memory” was originally commissioned by the Arts Council of England for Trio Basiliensis, with an instrumentation of voiceflute, viola da gamba and harpsichord, and after several interruptions (including moving back to Africa) I completed the piece in 1998. Trio Basiliensis disbanded in the late 1990s and so the piece lay unperformed for several years until I reworked it for the more standard piano trio. It is dedicated to Marianne Mezger and Paul Simmonds, and lasts about 13 minutes. (Michael Blake)