Works > Vocal Music > CAN SILIM TUN


Precious Stone of the Great Offerings
Written in:
SMTB soli voices and string quartet
Commisioned by

Commissioned by Musik der Jahrhunderte in 1999.


Premiered on 12th February 2000 in the Theaterhaus, Stuttgart at the Eclat Festival by the Neue Vocalsolisten and the Arditti Quartet.

Programme Note

Mayan magic has a literal (or at least, literary) presence in Can Silim Tun (1999) for vocal quartet and string quartet, written for the Neue Vokalsolisten, Stuttgart.

Read More

On a trip to Mexico, Paredes found an old Mayan codex which, as she relates, contained “spells, prayers and medical prescriptions”, and two of the spells form the basis of this work. It would have been tempting, no doubt, to use an obviously incantatory, archaic-ritualistic style to set these texts, in which phrases are often repeated over and over, but Paredes resists this. Rather, the way she writes for the voices often recalls the world of the late-Renaissance mannerist madrigalists (in ‘feel’ rather than style), and it is no surprise to find that her list of acknowledged musical influences includes Don Carlo Gesualdo. The two spells are sharply contrasted in character: the first, “Text to invoke the deer”, is sensual, even erotic in character, while the “Text to bewitch the spiders” (which are clearly poisonous) is understandably more forthright, prickly and abrasive – at one point, the offending arachnids are explicitly told to “fuck off!”.

– Richard Toop