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In grosser Sehnsucht (2004)
song cycle for soprano and piano triotexts by: Camille Claudel,  Frida Kahlo, Cristina di Svezia, Rosa Luxemburg and Louise Michel
text editing: the composer
duration: 45'
commissioned by/dedicated to: Charlotte Riedijk and the Osiris Trio
published by: MCN
composed with financial support by: het Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst

world première: Oct. 4, 2004, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, by Charlotte Riedijk, soprano, and the Osiris Trio (Peter Brunt, violin, Larissa Groeneveld, cello, Ellen Corver, piano)

About In großer Sehnsucht:

The five songs that form the song cycle In großer Sehnsucht present portraits of as many women; women who - each in their own personal way, each in their own social context - played an important role in history.
On the one hand there are two visual artists: Camille Claudel, sculptress and Gustav Rodin’s former assistant and mistress, and the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo; on the other hand, two radical political activists: Rosa Luxemburg, communist agitator and advocate of women’s suffrage, and Louise Michel, the arsonist - pétroleuse - of the Paris Commune crushed in a bloody siege in 1871.
At the centre of the cycle is the Swedish Queen Kristina - Cristina di Svezia - who abdicated the throne in 1654 and spent her final years in Rome, acting as a Maecenas for the Italian ‘Arcadian’ poets of the day.

In großer Sehnsucht uses text fragments collected from personal diaries (Frida Kahlo), letters from prison or a lunatic asylum (Rosa Luxemburg and Camille Claudel, respectively), speeches given in her defence and poems written in exile (Louise Michel), and a pastoral drama - favola pastorale - (Cristina di Svezia, alleged to be the literary collaborator of the Italian poet and dramatist Alessandro Guidi).

Although I in no way claim to do complete justice to these five more or less tragic women in their complex relationship to the time in which they lived, I do hope to have given each of them a plausible ‘musical identity’. Some of the songs contain elements drawn from the musical idiom of the time, even including quotations gleaned from historical musical artefacts. At times these quotes are obvious, and at other times they are discreetly concealed.

Klas Torstensson
Translation: Jonathan Reeder