Pithos for alto saxophone and vibraphone (2017, 5’)
First performance: Bernard Haitinkzaal, Conservatorium van Amsterdam, June 29th 2017, by Janina Lorenci & Lola Mlacnik
Pithos is the Greek name for the large ceramic vase-shaped containers that were used around the Mediterranean Sea in the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age.
Although pithoi (plural of pithos) were utensils in the first place, they were often generously decorated with spirals, meanders, waves, geometric motifs and patterns, or scenes. Generally the size of a man, and not manoeuvrable by a single person, they were primarily built for the storage or transport of fluids or foodstuff. However, when set to fire, a pithos filled with olive oil could well serve as a tool for defense. Old pithoi were sometimes used as bathtubs, even as coffins. And, according to legend, the Greek philosopher Diogenes used a pithos as a night shelter.
At some point, the life span of all of those giant pithoi unavoidably came to an end. After all, ceramics are not made for eternity...
Pithos is a piece for alto saxophone and vibraphone. The special blend of these instruments forms the ceramic, the ‘container’ of the piece. This container is filled to the brim with high-spirited music, in which successions of rapid and short sixteenth notes, sprinkled with accents and covering the full range of both instruments, make up the main substance. Spiraling and meandering motifs and patterns are manoeuvred around by the two performers. A recapitulation of the more reflective opening material closes the circumference of the piece, after which two final sforzati smash the ceramic, and end the short life span of Pithos.
Pithos was written for Janina Lorenci (alto sax) and Lola Mlacnik (vibraphone).