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Eugenio Catina : Aylan The refugee child in the red shirt – Bergmann

Eugenio Catina

Bergmann Edition: 12 pages

Aylan, or Alan Kurdi, as he is now thought to be named was a 3 year old Syrian boy who drowned at sea with his Mother and Brother in 2015, and is here remembered in this two movement work by Italian writer/player Eugenio Catina, and the subtitle refers to the happy smiling picture of this lad wearing a red shirt that is on the internet.

Planctus, the first part of this piece (for the two movements join seamlessly into one movement) is a harrowing piece of writing set with a low melody at the opening with many places where mordents are involved, going in both directions and creating a restless and angry sound .There are two, sometimes three voices involved and the entire effect is there to create a tragic sound that refuses to go away. The rhythms in this opening need to be treated with great care as they are complex from the start. Gradually a more continuous sound enters, made up of semi – quavers, surrounded by 2 or 3 other voices. This reaches a climax following which everything begins to return to the feel of the opening, dying away to the Berceuse that is in triple time and begins with a mournful melody over a gently rocking motif below. Interestingly the composer puts a middle voice in small notes, so that it won’t be confused with the real melody close by. He makes the point in the notes of stating that the size of their notation has nothing to do with their importance, for they are all to be played. Gradually the music becomes more animated and rises higher up the fingerboard, with moments of 10/16, and 6/8 as the intensity increases. Then as before the opening mood takes back over and everything dies away with the use of several harmonic moments and a final sudden sforzando set of bare fifths chords to finish.

Nothing here is at all easy, and the style of his harmonies, with all the small grace notes do require a decent technique to cope. The music is difficult to assimilate at first with its constant sadness and anger, so don’t expect there to be any beautiful melodies here, because they are largely absent. However if the story line intrigues you enough to see just how our composer deals with the subject matter, then this piece is very well – written indeed .

Chris Dumigan

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