Parera Fons – Forgetfulness

The extra-musical character of this piece is clearly related to two of Antoni Parera’s song cycles, both full of spirituality as well as doubts and uncertainties concerning death. El darrer viatge (The final journey), set to poems by Guillem d’Efak and Les trente-trois noms de Dieu based on a text by Marguerite Yourcenar, both premiered and recorded by two well-known baritones: Joan Pons and José van Dam. Parera Fons was convinced that “life was a road of forgetfulness”, and he sought to express the idea of this forgetful state in this symphonic work which is associated with the hour of our death as well, death as a key to nothingness, but also the crowning moment in coming to understand our own raison d’être.

All the melodic material in this piece is based directly on the theme we hear at the beginning, played by the English horn just after the first  chord which sets the mood of uncertainty and meditation that prevails throughout the piece. Although this theme sounds like it may well be a Majorcan folksong, it’s not, it’s an original theme by the composer. Then, after a short development section which has no real structural function other than to heighten and continue the general atmosphere of the work up to this point, a second theme is introduced, based on the first theme but with its own very clearly marked character; so, this new theme will become increasingly important and dominate later thematic additions, all of them much shorter and also related to the first theme. This mysterious sounding second theme is a contrast to the first theme, and the development of  both themes together help the work move forward. According to the composer, throughout the development “there is a continuous renewal of ideas” but neither of the two main themes dominates the other, instead, the interplay between them creates a series of  constantly changing moods: we go from dramatic moments to tense moments, then on to sadness, expectation, doubt…but the music’s meditative character seems to shine out above it all.

At the end of the development, the two themes are clearly hinted at rather than coming back as a straightforward recapitulation, but the first one is obviously more important both for its character and the melodic material that derives from it.

As we said earlier, the two main themes are the basis for this piece, and while the structure of this music may seem rather free, that doesn’t the music is form-less. Parera Fons is able to express his ideas by writing a work whose beauty is both serene and restless at the same time, intensely dramatic at times but always lyric and poetic.

Josep Pascual