PASSIONSLIEDER 'When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.' The first epistle of Paul the apostle to the corinthians (2. 1-5) If one is to transfer these words of St. Paul the Apostle from the religious dimension into the dimension of musical aesthetics, then it becomes quite possible to consider them not only the validation and substantiation of the Minimalist technique but most veritable manifesto of Minimalism. In reality: renouncing the temptation of many fields of knowledge, to know only one thing, and knowing it alone to repeat it incessantly over and over again - does this not in essence represent the core of both Minimalism and repetitive technique? Of course, for contemporary composers, who write the most complex scores and invent more and more new 'musical means of expression', this incessant repetition of one entity would be considered a mere folly. Once the maestro of the musical avant-garde of the 1950s Pierre Boulez remarked that in the context of the huge arsenal of techniques, which contemporary music is endowed with, Minimalism is perceived by him a primitive form of art, not worthy of any attention. But what in truth is this very 'huge arsenal of musical techniques, which contemporary music is endowed with'? Is it not merely the 'persuasive words of men's wisdom', which St. Paul had renounced when coming to preach to the Corinthians? Of course, it is frightening to spurn the persuasive qualities of these words. It is indeed frightening to lose the familiar ground under one's feet. Nonetheless, whoever does not overcome this fear will always remain forever a citizen of the 'realm of men's wisdom'. Minimalist music presents itself as the overcoming of the fear of the insuperable persuasiveness of the words of men's wisdom. Minimalism is in essence an appellation 'not to men's wisdom but to God's power', and the 'Passionslieder' present themselves as none other than a minimalist attempt to 'resolve to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified'. Minimalism contains in itself the secret of repetition, the secret of sameness, the secret of the discernment of what is the same. In order to grasp the essence of Minimalism, one must remember the story of the discovery of the cross on which Christ was crucified. When through the efforts of St. Helen, the successor of the legacy of the Apostles, the three crosses, on which Christ and the two robbers were crucified, were found and unearthed, those who were present saw that the crosses were absolutely identical, and that no examination or discourse were capable of discerning that cross, for the sake of which all of the efforts of the seekers had been undertaken. At that time a funeral procession was passing by and one of the people present came up with the idea of taking the body of the deceased and placing it on each of the three crosses in turn. When on one of the three discovered crosses the deceased person came back to life, everybody understood that that cross was the very cross on which Christ was crucified. Of course, discernment of individual features in identical objects through the example of bringing the dead back to life is a very extreme case. Nonetheless, here we have before us three entirely identical musical movements with different names: 'The First Cross', 'The Second Cross' and 'The Third Cross'. Could we observe during the course of listening on which of the three movements our attention comes to life and on which ones does it remain dead? And, in general, when we listen to the same music repeating itself, do we remain one and the same? And what is this 'one and the same?' This particular mystery of 'one and the same' is what Minimalism is preoccupied with. Vladimir Martynov
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