Sander Germanus – Im Vortex

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Ensemble Musikfabrik will perform a new work by Sander Germanus, called ‘Im Vortex’. On Saturday, May 18th in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam at the ZaterdagMatinee and on May 20th WDR Funkhaus am Wallrafplatz in Köln…   

Im Vortex actually means ‘in the vortex’ in German. A vortex is a general scientific term for a whirling mass of fluid or air, a rotating movement that you will find in various natural phenomena, such as a twister (air) or a whirlpool (water). In this composition, Sander Germanus was inspired by these rotating circles by translating all sorts of vortices into music, as if the listeners are in a vortex themselves. Each part of this composition loosely highlights a different appearance of a vortex (or the peaceful eye in the middle of it). It is up to the audience to hear what kind of vortices these are.

The title of this work is also in line with his general musical goal, namely ‘disorientation’. The dizziness of a vortex is part of that. Germanus tries to create this experience by constantly breaking the expectations of the listener, so he/she feels pleasantly confused. To achieve this he presents surprising but logical harmonic progressions, which he has been working with for more than two decades now, mostly made of relatively simple chords, in which quarter-tones are used. These hallucinatory and disorienting harmonic progressions play an essential role in his world of sound. Also important is the application of tempo circles (his invention from already 1996), where the tempo is constantly accelerating or slowing down, but the music never actually gets faster or slower.

New in this piece is the combination of glissandi and quarter-tone voice leading, which makes it seem like the listener is being sucked into another sound or movement. This also corresponds to the idea of a vortex, like a whirlpool. With an electronic organ, an amplified double bass in the acoustic ensemble and a striking form, this composition sounds different from his earlier works for ensemble.

Score at Donemus

More info about the concert in Amsterdam

More info about the concert in Cologne

Sander Germanus at Donemus

Article by Thea Derks