Komponisten über Komponisten

Komponisten über Komponisten

Auf unserem Blog stellen unsere zeitgenössischen Komponisten ihre Lieblingswerke aus unserem Katalog vor. Dieses Mal schreibt Liza Lim über NIM von Younghi Pagh-Paan. Hier die englische Originalfassung des Textes:

Younghi Pagh-Paan’s wild serenity

I first heard Younghi Pagh-Paan’s large orchestral work NIM (1986/87) in the late 1980s on a cassette. In Australia, in the days before the easy access provided by internet radio or youtube uploads, one relied on friends in Europe to make recordings of premieres from the radio: a cassette arriving in the post after Donaueschingen or Metz or some other festival was an incredibly precious thing when one was hungry to hear the latest contemporary music.
What I heard on that cassette was music of immense visceral expressivity bringing together an incredibly confident sense of large-scale temporal order with a raw sonic energy. Knowing Pagh-Paan’s cultural background I could make a connection between NIM and the grandeur of Korean court music with its slowly unfolding pace. NIM has a really strong sense of lamentation with brass and wind instruments crying out in groups, combined with percussion strokes that give the music this inexorable, relentless quality. There is a combination of wildness and contemplation - listen to the ending of NIM where the piccolo and strings with percussion open up a sense of vastness after the preceding turmoil. There is a paradoxical ‘wild serenity’ in this music that was really inspiring to me and which I also look for in my own work.

Yet Younghi’s music doesn’t just stand for ‘Korean-ness’ – her music opens doorways between North-East-Asian and Germanic-European concepts of time, of relations between surface and depth and the articulation of individuated elements against a communal drive. That intercultural element is so important as a model for how an artist can propose ways of thinking about cultural ‘place’ and questions of identity and belonging in a globalised world. Artists are nomads travelling along and across many streams of cultural influences and so in one sense carry ‘home’ with them even as they move in search of connections, resources (let’s be honest!) and resonances in the world. What’s interesting is when the project of ‘leaving home’ is also an inner homecoming, when journeying leads one closer to oneself. Because a nomad cannot carry much baggage, to travel in this sense is to clarify what is really essential.
I also appreciate the way Younghi has made a mark as an artist who is a woman. Sometimes one can feel a bit lonely when it seems that there is little progress in the same old struggles for women’s voices to gain a foothold in the contemporary music landscape and so fellow travellers give strength. I hope we’ll hear much more of Younghi’s music as she approaches her 70th birthday next year – we need to celebrate our mother-figures as much as father-figures in art and who better to speak of complexity of being and a project of authenticity in music than Younghi Pagh-Paan. 

- Liza Lim

NIM · [1986/87]
for big orchesra
4 (2 Picc, Afl). 2. Eh. 3. Bkl. 4 (Kfg). / 4. 3. 3. 1. / Pk. 3 Schlzg. / Str.
World Premiere: Donaueschingen, 16.10.1987
Duration: 17’
Sy. 3043 // *Partitur / Sti.