Length: c. 9 minutes
Please see “About the Artists,” P28, for a biography of composer/conductor Daníel Bjarnason.
Ek ken die nag (I Know the Night) was composed during the winter of 2013/14 for the Netherlands Chamber Choir and the Calefax reed quintet, and premiered in Utrecht in March 2014. The Afrikaans text is by the South African poet and journalist Elisabeth Eybers (1915-2007).
Bjarnason begins in quiet mystery, instruments and voices circling around the pitch “B” and groping for articulation. The text suggests the existential crisis of one who knows the night all too well, from inside out, and Bjarnason’s vocal writing alternates rhythmically unified lines with tight polyphony, emphasizing both the stress and the richness of this dark knowledge. At the end, the pervasive center on “B” is revealed as a sort of massively prolonged dominant preparation for the final line, a soft unison chant of “I know its inside” on “E.”