Sang Song – Vier Todesmomente (2020)
for brass quartet
Marco Blaauw, trumpet
Christine Chapman, horn
Bruce Collings, trombone
Melvyn Poore, tuba
Janet Sinica, video/editing
Jan Böyng, editing
Stephan Schmidt, recording producer/editing
The four moments of death the title refers to are Snow White’s.
In the Grimm Brothers’ final version of the classic fairy tale, the evil queen makes four attempts to kill Snow White. Initially, the queen orders a huntsman to kill Snow White in the forest and return with her lungs and liver. The huntsman, of course, could not bring himself to kill Snow White, so he spares the little girl and brings the queen the lungs and liver of a boar instead. When the queen learns that Snow White is still alive, she decides to take the matter into her own hands and tries to kill Snow White first by suffocating her with a tight corset. When that fails, she gives a poisoned comb a try—but Snow White is revived yet again…
As we all know, the queen finally “kills” Snow White by convincing her to take a bite off a poisoned apple. It should be noted, however, that the poison on the apple is arguably not what really “killed” Snow White: she comes back to life when the piece of apple she had bitten off is dislodged from her throat, implying that her cause of death was actually choking! If we’re right about this, then three of the four deaths Snow White had the misfortune of experiencing have to do with breathing: lungs and suffocation/choking.
Those four moments constitute the backbone of Vier Todesmomente. The piece, however, is not meant to be a pictorial representation of the story. Rather, it is best understood as a reflection on the fragility of life and, at the same time, a celebration of breathing—which the recent events have made us realize is something we have to fight for.
The four movements of Vier Todesmomente have the following titles:
I. Boar’s Lungs
II. Tight Corset
III. Poisoned Comb