Slow, Gradual, Cumulative: Qi II by Sehyung Kim

Label reMusik.org is pleased to announce the release of a new work by Sehyung Kim — Qi II for accordionist.

Humanity has never known a time filled with as many sounds as it experiences today. Whether these sounds are voluntary or involuntary, welcomed or not, depends on who hears them. What is indisputable is that spaces where listening, as opposed to mere hearing, is possible have become refuges from the constant barrage of the outside world.

This surfeit of sound has also found a home in the music of many contemporary composers. To resist the oversaturation of modern life, to return to fundamentals, to compose the equivalent of a cinematic long-shot, is therefore an accomplishment.

In Qi II, Sehyung Kim defies mankind’s ever-shortening attention span with a piece of variable duration, here almost 31 minutes, demanding concentration. On a formal level, the piece is as simple as per aspera ad astra, a glissando from low to high. The score, a single page, specifies vibrato, register and pitch in separate staves; the precise order of its discourse is left open to the decision of each performer.

However, to reduce the musical experience to the playing-out of a scheme is to deny the spaciousness of its argument, and the grandeur that it achieves, not least because of its protean nature: multiple performers could be involved and it could be a bagatelle or an epic. It is, in essence, a study of vibration, the accumulation and release of which is its central aim. It is moreover an arch form, with inaudibility as its termini and vehemence, on the note A, a station reached along the way.

In linking his music for a primal instrument to the concept of qi in Eastern philosophy, the composer taps into bare essentials: breath, energy, life, timelessness — a fount of eternal renewal.

Dan Albertson

“Qi II” for accordionist is a part of my cycle “Qi” for various solo instruments. The concept of this cycle is to immerse the listeners into the inner world of the performer through his own instrument. In fact, this is meditation, which requires extreme concentration and expending a lot of physical energy, both from the performer and from the listener.

The idea of the piece has arisen in the summer of 2012, and later during classes at the II International Academy of Young Composers in the city of Tchaikovsky, where I was lucky to work with such composers as Mark André and Klaus Lang, I completely finished it. The piece is written in close cooperation with Russian accordionist Sergej Tchirkov and is dedicated to him.

There are two versions of the performance of this piece: compressed — from 8 to 15 minutes and stretched — from 15 to 30 minutes, which is recorded on this audio CD.

— Sehyung Kim