Hinterlight & Trajectories

Posted on January 5th, 2010 by

Jim Aitchison-Hinterlight & Trajectories

Discussing Jim's music, the composer with work by Hoyland at rear. Photo: Richard Bram

At the end of 2009, the Kreutzer Quartet recorded two major works-his ‘Trajectories’, which is based on the explosive canvases of John Hoyland, and ‘Hinterlight’, which was commissioned for the tremendous exhibit of Mark Rothko at Tate Modern in 2008. Here is an outtake from the recording sessions-the first 70 bars or so of Trajectories.

Kreutzer Quartet (PSS, Mihailo Trandafilovski, Morgan Goff, Neil Heyde) Trajectories

Recorded: London November 2009

Engineer: Jonathan Haskell (Astounding Sounds)

Jim Aitchison with the work of John Hoyland, Tate St Ives 2006. Photo: Richard Bram

Jim Aitchison with the work of John Hoyland, Tate St Ives 2006. Photo: Richard Bram

 ‘Hinterland’ was very much inspired by two voices – of the male soprano Nicholas Clapton, and the horn player Michael Thompson. The work is not by any means a concertante, but rather weaves these two sounds in amongst the string quartet to make a new kind of chamber music. At the first performance, given amidst Rothko’s ‘Seagram Murals’, all six players sat in a circle. This work is very much a sextet. However, the very particular timbres and virtuosity of these two extraordinary musicians are key to the sound world of Hinterlight.

 This is not the first piece that Jim has written for Nicholas Clapton. In July 2008 this singer premiered Aitchison’s Memory Field with the Kreutzers. This work was inspired by Anthony Gormley’s sculpture. Indeed, the first performance took place in the atmospheric surroundings of the artist’s studio near Kings Cross.

 Following on from Hinterlight, Jim has written a series for pieces for Michael Thompson, Neil Heyde and me, based on the work of Anish Kapoor. These pieces were premiered at the Royal Academy of Arts in November 2009, as part of the artist’s acclaimed solo exhibition.

 Jim’s music is enormously satisfying to play, both musically and physically. These two works run the gamut from extreme virtuoso complexity and speed, particularly in the fast movements of Trajectories, to great lyricism, which in the case of Hinterlight, is overtly romantic.

 Being able to spend some time, absorbed in this beautiful music, but away from the violin, I was very struck by how much its singing quality finds a particular heart in the voice, the horn, and the solo cello. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the last movement of Hinterlight, where these three voices reveal a keening rhapsody which recalls the slow music of Olivier Messiaen. But Jim’s voice is utterly his own; this is music which sounds as if it had to be. To appropriate Henry Moore’s description of Cycladic sculpture, it ‘has a great and elemental simplicity’.

 PSS: 5th January 2010