How did the world begin? How did life come about? Religion has given us vivid poetic descriptions of the creation, and it has inspired literature attributing the creating force to God, a god, or an unending cycle that has no beginning and no end. Science has given us the Big Bang, with its single point of super-condensed proto-matter exploding to create innumerable celestial bodies, and Darwin, who explained how man evolved from the failed species that came before us. No matter what we believe, we are fascinated by our beginnings, and we are continually striving for explanations that satisfy our desire to know ourselves better. Whether coming from Daniel Kellogg’s Christian beliefs or George Crumb’s fascination with the timelessness of nature, both pieces on this disc share an incredible commonality of musical responses to these questions. Both pieces explore the inherent violence of creation, whether in short outbursts, as in the opening of the Kellogg, or in the jagged, piercing melody heard at the beginning of the Crumb. Both pieces move from this violence to joyful celebrations and tender contemplations, using the full dynamic range and color palette at each composer’s disposal. Both pieces offer long, expansive lines and melodies, defying and stretching time in an attempt to prolong the emotions contained within the composers’ musical outpouring.
For us, playing and interpreting these works, their clearest common bond is the breadth of human experience they suggest. Though Kellogg and Crumb are inspired by different backgrounds and beliefs, these two pieces bring out the same incredibly wide range of emotions, reminding us that it is the totality of a person’s experiences that, taken altogether, make a life. Whether leading to the boisterously jubilant ending of the Kellogg or the quietly exultant last strain of the Crumb, both pieces celebrate the fact that we live, that the universe does exist, that out of the obscure chaos, a harmonious peace has been achieved.
We do not know how the world began, but we do know that these pieces tell that story much better than we ever could.