“Composing means first of all: destruction.” The modus operandi of the composer Charlotte Seither begins with the splitting up of the “objects of our composing”; every pre-existing correlation, from the traditional genre to the configuration of the individual pitches, is deconstructed. However, this principle of “dissociation” does not mean disintegration: Rather, it describes a patient exploration of the inner life of the sounds and the organized dissection of these sounds down to their atomic parts. The result is material that can be used for new compositional purposes: it is so completely “dissociated” that it is liberated from the uses and meanings that once surrounded it.
For her first piano trio “Champlève” the composer decided to treat both string instruments as separate but equal partners. The piano loses its guiding role and is reduced to percussive interventions resulting from preparations inside the instrument; the violin and cello, on the other hand, work together. The traditional hierarchy is turned on its head.
Seither’s second piano trio “Equal Ways of Difference” was written for the elole Piano Trio’s tenth anniversary: “These are three musicians who have developed a highly cultivated group dynamic that is open to individual differences and especially well-suited to the genre of the piano trio.” (Seither)
In the composition “Playing Both Ends Towards the Middle” for two instruments, the violin and the violoncello are equal partners sharing the same musical material, but Seither discusses here a basic question of human existence: How can the autonomy of the individual be maintained in spite of the necessity of shared activity?
“Merging Strain” for violoncello was composed for a concert series at the Philharmonic Concert Hall in Cologne, where each of the solo cello suites of Johann Sebastian Bach was juxtaposed with a new composition. In her works Seither has achieved a completely individual kind of virtuosity on the instrument while nevertheless echoing Bach’s cello style.
The title “Gran passo” formulates the basic idea of this piano piece. The “large step” here is primarily the double crossing of a border: the one separating the keyboard from the inside of the piano, and the one between the distinct parameters of melody and rhythm.
In “Cry” for solo violin the music begins as a near physical experience: sighing, wailing, crying, choked sobbing, whining, and unsuccessful attempts at direct expression. However, these initial gestures later increasingly function as abstract musical material.
Champlève for violin, violoncello and piano (1994)
Cry for violin solo (2009)
Gran passo for piano solo (2006)
Playing Both Ends Towards the Middle for violin and violoncello (2000)
Merging Strain for violoncello solo (1999)
Equal Ways of Difference for violin, violoncello and piano (2011)