Programme note for Alla Luna for solo kannel John Buckley
When I first heard Kristi Mühling playing the kannel in Dublin in 2012, I was immediately captivated by the delicate beauty of the sound and by Kristi’s virtuosic and highly expressive playing style. Following a technical tutorial on the instrument I composed Alla Luna in July 2013; it was first performed in the Writer’s Centre Dublin in October of that year.
The piece draws its title and inspiration from the poem Alla Luna (1819) by Giacomo Leopardi. The poet reflects on the beauty of the moon and the consolation it gives him in his recollection of sadness and trouble in his life. The entire poem is imbued with a type of mystical reflection on how the quality of moonlight influences our recollections and feelings.
The piece for kannel does not attempt to interpret the poem on a line- by- line basis. It does however draw on two central images from the poem: the brilliance of moonlight brightening all things (che tutta la rischiara) and the poet’s remembrance of things past (Il remembrar della passate cose). The music combines rapid vigorous passages with ones of quiet dreamlike reflection. I have attempted to capture something of the kannel’s sheer beauty of sound, in particular its magical resonance.
Alla Luna is dedicated to Kristi Mühling.
O graziosa luna, io mi rammento
Che, or volge l’anno, sovra questo colle
Io venia pien d’angoscia a rimirarti:
E tu pendevi allor su quella selva
Siccome or fai, che tutta la rischiari.
Ma nebuloso e tremulo dal pianto
Che mi sorgea sul ciglio, alle mie luci
Il tuo volto apparia, che travagliosa
Era mia vita: ed è, né cangia stile,
0 mia diletta luna. E pur mi giova
La ricordanza, e il noverar l’etate
Del mio dolore. Oh come grato occorre
Nel tempo giovanil, quando ancor lungo
La speme e breve ha la memoria il corso,
Il rimembrar delle passate cose,
Ancor che triste, e che l’affanno duri!
To the Moon
O lovely moon, now I’m reminded
How almost a year since, full of anguish,
I climbed this hill to gaze at you again,
And you hung there, over that wood, as now, Brightening all things.
Filled with mistiness, trembling,
That’s how your face seemed to me,
With all those tears that welled in my eyes,
So troubled was my life, and is, and does not change,
O moon, my delight. And yet it does help me,
To record my sadness and tell it, year by year.
Oh how sweetly it hurts, when we are young,
When hope has such a long journey to run,
And memory is so short,
This remembrance of things past,
Even if it is sad, and the pain lasts.
Giacomo Leopardi (1819)
10.12.2014 Concert ReFresh, Mustpeade maja concert hall, Tallinn, Estonia
The piece “Alla Luna” (2014) is inspired by Giacomo Leopardi´s romantic poem “Alla Luna” (1819).
Kannel- estonian national instrument.