for large symphony orchestra (2011)
Antarctique is the seventh and final part of Grand Atlas, a cycle in which each of the seven world continents is depicted in an orchestral composition.
The Antarctic cold prevents Earth’s southernmost continent from growing trees. Anyone who reaches the South Pole by skis and dog sled faces snow, ice and wind, for weeks in a row, with no respite. Likewise, Antarctique lacks the luxury of melodies and varied rhythm. It simply survives on a strict ration of chords, cross fades, and regular pulses.
Antarctique originated from site-specific considerations. That is to say, the vast circular concert venue of the first performance, the spectacular gasholder of the Amsterdam Westergasfabriek, defined pretty much every aspect of the work.
The monolithic music, scored for large symphony orchestra, passes through a spiral of harmonies, the complexity of which increases gradually throughout the work by stacking pitches according to the circle of fifths. The harmonies are strung together by means of a ‘cantus firmus’, containing all twelve chromatic notes as well as all possible intervals. >>>