Trema by Heinz Holliger

I wrote Trema toward the end of May 1981 for Rivka Golani, viola player and painter from Israel. The versions for solo cello and solo violin are respectively dated from 1981 and 1983. The utilisation of different time levels on one single instrument, which had already characterized my “Studie über Mehrklänge” and most importantly my string quartet, becomes here the leading idea. A harmony, which evolves in an extremely slow tempo, is covered by very precise bow techniques of arpeggios and tremolos, as if they were sound screens oscillating and moving in different directions. What one can perceive through these grids is a very fast evolving music with a multiplicity of sound layers: it almost sounds, as would it be produced by more than one single player on a single instrument. No new playing technique is being used, not even “pizzicato” or “col legno” effects. (Heinz Holliger on Trema, translated by Nadège Rochat)