Abglanzbeladen​/​auseinandergeschrieben ⏤ Richard Barrett

by Sean Dowgray



(1992-96, revised 1998) for solo vibraphone, crotales, steel pan, flexatone, and gong

Abglanzbeladen/auseinandergeschrieben (laden with reflections/written asunder) is the first solo in Barrett’s Opening of the Mouth, an evening length work consisting of eleven pieces for solo, duo, trio, and large ensemble that overlap one another. Opening of the Mouth refers to an ancient Egyptian ritual performed during the process of mummification in order to restore the power of speech, enabling the individual to plead their case before the judges of the underworld. The predominant text in Opening of the Mouth is from “Engführung” (1958) by Paul Celan, from which the vibraphone solo also receives its title. As Barrett explains:

"The mouth of poet Paul Celan was opened by the Holocaust; his complex constellations of images indeed include that of giving a voice to the dead, to those whose mouths were empty before being closed, the countless and the nameless. Celan’s language itself is a language beyond destruction of the German language by the Nazis, the ‘thousand darknesses of deathbringing speech’ in Celan’s own words, its ‘bearing witness’ also a witness to its own impossibility as, between 1945 and 1970 (the year of Celan’s suicide by drowning), the poems are distilled from lyric utterances to hard and opaque fragments: concretions of a need and an inability to articulate something which is both more and less
than memory. The millions of people murdered and burned have been distributed throughout the atmosphere which enters and leaves our lungs." - Richard Barrett

Verbacht ins
mit der untrüglichen Spur:
Gras, auseinandergeschrieben
”Engführung” (1958), Paul Celan (1920-1970)

Removed to the
with unerring track:
grass, written asunder
translation, Richard Barrett

UC San Diego | "These Machines... These Mechanisms..." | 10.13.16


released October 17, 2019


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