1986 WU LI for cello solo

WU LI (1986/87) for cello solo, was written at the request of Alan Brett who, at the time, was a fervent advocate of the new cello repertoire, in particular of works such as written by Xenakis (e.g. Nomos Alpha). He was also a frequent visitor of the annual Darmstadt Ferien Kurse where all the new tricks of the trade found a welcome home and complexity couldn’t be complex enough… It is easy to become obsessed by such trends and my eagerness to please and to experiment found an outlet in Wu Li, after the title of a then popular book ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters’ by Gary Zukav (1979).

Not unlike Athena Keramitis, it runs through a veritable sample book of cello playing techniques and operates musically on a great many levels simultaneously. This is because I was very fond of treating the various musical parameters independently, in order to create unusual results and exotic effects. I find it difficult to give an impression of its merits until someone manages to give Wu Li a fair hearing and to bring its overall structure to life. It may turn out not to be as impossible as it looks. After all, I had researched the intricacies of modern cello techniques in quite some detail. Some of that labour must have found its way into the score.

A couple of tentative performances were given by Alan Brett at Darmstadt in 1987 and in Amsterdam the following year, but no cellist has since been tempted by the scary looks of this score.