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Wheatfield with lark : for piano and orchestra, 1997 / Peter van Onna

Publisher: Amsterdam: Donemus, 2000
Publisher's number: 09368
Genre: Orchestra
Subgenre: Piano and orchestra
Scoring: 2fl fl(pic) 2ob eh 2cl cl-b 3fg 4h 3trp 3trb tb 3perc str( pf-solo
Remarks: Geschreven voor de tournee 1998 van het Nederlands Studenten Orkest. - In opdracht van het Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst. - Opgedragen aan Ananda Sukarlan. - Cop. 1997. - Tijdsduur: ca. 20'
Duration: 20'00"
Year of composition: 1997
Status: fully digitized (real-time delivery)

Other authors:
Onna, Peter van (Composer)
Program note (English): [Première: January 9, 1998 - Petrus en Pauluskerk, Bergen - Bart van de Roer, Student Orchestra of the Netherlands, Nicolette Fraillon, conducting] - Searching for the truth, meaninglessly and superfluous as chewing on water (Japanese haiku) - Wheatfield with lark is the third part of an orchestral cycle in which the pictorial is foremost. The first part of the cycle, Rain, steam and speed, is lent from the painting of the same title by William Turner. The second part of the cycle is The Mondrian equilibrium. The painting Wheatfield with lark by Vincent van Gogh was made 1887.
Van Gogh had just arrived from Antwerp in Paris and produced in Asnière (just outside Paris) a triad of landscapes, among which Wheatfield with lark. The painting has been divided, compositionally, in three layers. Cloudy, clear blue sky, the corn at the side and the field at the forefront. The compositional element in the canvas is brought entirely into balance due to a lark soaring above the corn. The most interesting aspect of this painting is however something else. The represented corn has been bent by wind. This creates the suggestion of movement within a frame which is furthermore completely static. In this respect Wheatfield with lark is similar to Rain, steam and speed. In this last painting, also a landscape, a steam engine is depicted.
The paradox between the static landscape on the one hand and the suggestion of speed and movement by the train on the other gives the painting an enormous tension and eloquence. Another well known example is a still life by Paul Cézanne, in which an erroneous perspective creates the felling that the apples will roll off the table. This results in the same impact. The tension which is brought by a friction between static versus something that seems to move is interesting to a composer, because translating this to music is difficult. This is exactly my goal with in Wheatfield with lark. The image of wind blowing through the rustling corn, finds its musical equivalent in the large-scale gestures whirling through the complete scope of the orchestral apparatus.
Van Gogh has moreover expressed his fascination for "wind which plays with corn" in several letters. The compositional balance in Van Gogh's painting is adjusted through the lark passing and in my work this is done in the piano solo. The Japanese temple bells at the beginning and at the end of my piece are a subtle reference to Japanese prints which were, during the time of impressionism, very popular with Van Gogh and his contemporaries. - PETER VAN ONNA

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