First performance: 13 September 2002, Cologne, Germany
WDR Symph. Orchestra and Choir
Conductor: Sylvain Cambreling
Text: Sándor Weöres and Gerhard Rühm
IMA (Prayer) is a sequel to Peter Eötvös’ Atlantis, composed in 1995: a musical memorial commemorating a culture that, at the zenith of its brightest period, suddenly sank into the sea. But while Atlantis gives the impression of a slow exploratory journey into the past and in an underwater world, IMA contemplates the sunken continent from the present.
For the composition of IMA, Peter Eötvös used the verses of two poets, Gerhard Rühm’s poem entitled Gebet, and some lines from Sándor Weöres’ Silent music. Rühm imitates the gesture of prayer, for which he uses a language similar to “that of a litany, recitative chanted in a subdued voice”, as if, in the ancient culture, there existed a prayer addressed to ancient gods in an ancient language. Weöres on his part relates the beginning of the Creation, based on the Bible in a language of his own invention. According to Eötvös – who derives his own world of sound from “the meditative aspect and concentration of the prayers of various cultures” – this sounds like “a Polynesian language with some Latin influence”.
Ritualism comes naturally to me. Since ritualism is an original form in which gestures and sound appear in absolute unity, I could in effect call all my pieces ‘ritual’.