5 Stages of Griefis based on the five-stages process theory, whereby the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance frame a mental structure that teaches one to live with the loss. It is a formal model present in the numerous funeral odes and marches, as well as in the baroque tombeaus and Romantic elegies. It is within that classical tradition that Czech composer/guitarist Stepan Rak (b.1945) wrote Tombeau for Sabrina as soon as he had received the tragic news. In what is essentially an elegiac song grown out of an arpeggio accompaniment, Rak reaches a melodic and dramatic peak, only to subside in a downward chromatic motion. Tombeauis typical of Rak’s unbuttoned emotional directness.
Nikita Koshkin’s (b.1956) Sonata no. 2 is a considerably more melodic work. The first movement is argumentative and compact, the second draws on the topics of loneliness and emptiness and the third is a threatening, sinister play of persecution.
One could hardly imagine two composers as dissimilar as Koshkin and the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996). Where Koshkin is angular, dramatic, relentless, and pounding, Takemitsu’s music is about giving time to time, waiting for rounded gestures to blossom from and into silence. In the Woodsis a subtle and meditative piece and was Takemitsu’s final work, written when he was in hospital.
The Latvian composer Peteris Vasks (1946-) wrote the Sonata of Lonelinessin 1990. In this work all three movements have a severe and anguished aspect: the first, Pensieroso, relies in a sparse alternation of material; the second, Risoluto, is a toccata where a relentless flux of semiquavers is alternated with chromatic chord sequences, which finally take over to a conclusion; the last movement is the spiritual core of the piece, where a long melody with folk overtones is punctuated by a dirge-like chorale; these reminiscences of church chorales invest the piece with a deeply sorrowful and immemorial character.
The German composer and guitarist Georg Schmitz’s (1958-)Last Encores, premiered in 2009, has become his best-known guitar work. Each of the four movements could lead an independent life, as the title suggests, as a display piece, but the intimacy, introspection and resignation are retained by the darkly rich sonority in each one.
5 Stages of Grief is a deeply personal and emotional album that showcases Kristina Vårlid’s incredible talent as a guitarist and her ability to express the complex and intense emotions of grief through music. May this music bring comfort to all who had the good fortune of getting to know Sabrina’s art.