Manuel Guillen is considered one of the most important violinist in Spain in developing and enriching the violin repertoire of today. His most important contribution is perhaps his commissioning and championing the incredibly virtuosic Violin Concerto by Spain's hottest composer, David del Puerto. Not mentioning violin pieces by Jesus Rueda, Jose Manuel Lopez and other big Spaniards in music of the present day.
We had fun in recording two short violin+piano pieces of mine (Sweet Sorrow and The Sleepers) together with another beautiful piece by Santiago Lanchares for a CD of music for handicapped pianists (Santiago's and mine are for 2-fingered right hand pianist). After the recording Manuel Guillen asked me to write a piece for violin solo, with a special request that he would like it to be "lyrical, like most of my music", to be included in his repertoire and hopefully many other violinists.
That was last year. I told him then that it would be long before I could write one. There were "urgent" pieces at that time : my third opera "Pro Patria" and my orchestral-choral-angklung piece "Stanza Suara" commissioned to inaugurate that mammoth festival of ITB. The scary thing is that 95% of all musicians involved in vocal music in Indonesia, plus a few hundreds from some Asian countries will be there to hear my piece live. So it's not that Stanza Suara would be enjoyed; it would be, strictly speaking, JUDGED! Now that both huge pieces are -thank God!- finished, I could take a break and write for just 1 instrument. Whew, I tell you, it feels REALLY good to write just in one pentagram line after months of writing all those huge chords and complex polyphony of my previous pieces!
In this new violin piece I want to experiment in "relationships" of different musical materials which have nothing to do with each other to be put in one piece. In order to do that, they must have something, even very small, in common, otherwise the piece won't have a solid form, therefore I should think of a motif that binds them all. Now, "relationship" in Indonesian is "relasi", which comes from the Dutch word "relatie". As I am in the mood of using people's name initials as motifs for my piece now the motif for "Manuel's piece" comes by itself. What else but Re-La-Si?
So, I had been working on Relationships this weekend, prior to the most important week for the Indonesian classical music scene, the national piano competition Ananda Sukarlan Award. Relasi is a kind of variations without a theme, only bound to each other by a simple motif of 3 notes: Re, La, Si. Writing the variations, I am thinking of the characters of the people I had relationships with in the past, not necessarily the amorous ones. That explains the nostalgic flavor of the piece. Now, if Manuel asks a composer to write a piece, one usually tends to exploit his extremely accomplished technical virtuosity. And so do I. But I won't this time. I am thinking of young violinists, those young ones who are having relationships, some beautiful, and some complicated. Like those I had in the past.
Re-la-si is a motif which I apparently have used in my tiny song for a birthday present to my dear friend Karina Suklan, based on a poem by WS Rendra, "Tidurlah Intan". I wasn't thinking of the meaning of "relasi" then; I was purely thinking in the intervals. Now, those 3 notes appear again in another piece of mine. And needless to say, these two pieces are not re-la-ted. They are two completely different pieces each with its own character...and weirdness.