October 23, 2015
American Composers Orchestra
George Manahan, conductor
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, NY, USA
Inspired by a Japanese tale of morality, The Spider Thread recounts a rapturous and frantic dash for spiritual salvation. The music is a literal orchestral high-wire climb, a scramble to reach paradise before the thread snaps.
The title is taken from the short story of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa about a cold-hearted criminal who is given a chance at salvation. As the story unfolds, a spider's thread is lowered into the darkness of Hell, allowing the criminal an escape into Paradise. As he climbs, his joy is short lived as other sinners have started climbing the thread behind him. Fearing the thread will break, he claims the tread for himself and at this moment the thread breaks casting all back into darkness.
The work is in three parts and follows the narrative of the story. It opens with murky “paradise” music meant to convey the ethereal realms of Heaven and Hell. A dashing scherzo signifies a desperate orchestral climb to paradise and builds to a climactic fall with the musical gestures stumbling over each other. The music recedes, returning to the murky paradise music of the beginning.