The choice of instruments is free; the music sheet contains all pieces in a version for alto recorder and for tenor recorder (or their higher or lower relatives).
These pieces have gone a long way! It began in 2015 when I wrote two suites for my friend Marcin Oleś, a great composer and double bass player from Kraków. I dedicated one of the two suites, Umbalisi mabali (The Storyteller) to my father, who had passed away in that autumn, and who had been a great father, artist, and storyteller.
In early 2019 Laura Faber from Seattle had tragically lost her son the previous year and looked for music that reflected her experience, and she came across Umbalisi mabali on my website. She asked me to adapt the pieces for the bass recorder. I adapted four pieces, wrote six more and called the collection Ukuvalelisa, which in Xhosa means Farewell. The movements cover all kinds of feelings and memories. As Laura Faber wrote: „What I have experienced so intensely since my son died is that life is not divided out neatly into separate episodes. There is joy amidst the deepest sadness, a wistful longing at times of joy, and a marvelous and bewildering jumble quite often. Your music shows this so well, and these solos really represent that constant mix of emotion.“ Indeed, there are the rather jubilant Ouverture, Hidden Surprises and At the Beach, the pensive On our Own, the tender Lullaby and Her beautiful eyes, the melancholic Darkness, the smooth Storyteller and the encouraging A new start. The last piece is an attempt to say farewell. But I guess it’s not really possible to say farewell to someone who was so near, so important, and still so mysterious like my father was for me. Hence, the end is open.
You can play these miniatures on Alto, Tenor, Voice Flute, Bass, or even Great Bass or Contra Bass. I would prefer a rather dark sound, like Tenor and lower, but I also realize that the pieces will be easier to play on an Alto. You can even mix different recorders: António Carrilho used ten recorders at the premiere, one for each piece. Hidden Surprises he even played on a soprano. The Storyteller, Her beautiful eyes, Darkness and At the beach should be played as if two instruments communicate with each other. While Ouverture, Storyteller, and At the Beach should be played in a steady groove, all other pieces can be played with rubato, taking freedom in phrasing, accelerating, slowing down, hesitating, or rushing, to increase the emotional depth.