“Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (For 52 Strings)” (Rome Symphony Orchestra)

The gift of the lament need not be representational in order to give (itself) over: bodies, decisions, and stockpiles); surely, the air-raid sirens, buildings imploding, and two tone-cluster passages mark time, but the destruction never creates a silence. At the zenith of this Penderecki piece’s zenith (twenty-five total seconds), a single violin sounds, sustained without adornment/ornamentation. Barren, all fifty two strings sounds approximate pitches and durations, holding at bay that memorialization which aggrandizes certitude.  Like the 2003 Hiroshima commemoration, the generation (of shared listening) should compress distance while remaining proximate: close enough to the event for commitment.


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