The Canticle of the Sun (Gubaidulina)

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The Canticle of the Sun is a composition by Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina based on the "Canticle of the Sun" and dedicated to cellist Mstislav Rostropovich for his seventieth birthday. Though the piece features a soloist and an ensemble, Gubaidulina does not consider it a cello concerto.[1]

Sofia Gubaidulina gives the following outline of the formal sections:

  1. Glorification of the Creator, and His Creations - the Sun and the Moon
  2. Glorification of the Creator, the Maker of the four elements: air, water, fire and earth
  3. Glorification of life
  4. Glorification of death

Though she notes that the cellists 'abandonment' of his or her instrument actually divides the piece in two.

An overtone row played on the C string is used, after which the cellist tunes the string down to the lowest note possible on the instrument, bows near the bridge, on the bridge with a snare drum stick, behind the bridge, and then on the tailpiece. The cellist then puts down the instrument, playing on a bass drum, and then on a flexatone with a bass bow before returning to the cello.

The piece has been recorded and released on:

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