Alba - Rebecca Saunders

for solo trumpet and symphony orchestra (2014)

alba L. fem. of albus “white,” from PIE root *albho“white,” albe OE.

In painting, the most extreme bright and light achromatic colour to the point of absolute luminosity.

Devoid of shade and greyness, white is notably ardent, the colour of fury.

Alba is the final work in a series of three concertos: StillVoid and Alba.

Each title defines a condition, or state, of absence in relation to sound, to space and to colour, respectively, and each refers to a text of Samuel Beckett.

Taken from the collection Echo’s BonesAlba is an intensely lyrical poem. Beckett weighs each and every word and its shadow, its echo.

This poem ends looking forward to the short and intense prose texts written at the end of his life: his profoundly reduced, almost skeletal, prose, both mercilessly direct and yet exquisitely fragile. 

Rebecca Saunders 


Samuel Beckett Alba 

before morning you shall be here
and Dante and the Logos and all strata and mysteries
and the branded moon
beyond the white plane of music
that you shall establish here before morning

grave suave singing silk
stoop to the black firmament of areca
rain on the bamboos flowers of smoke alley of willows

who though you stoop with fingers of compassion
to endorse the dust
shall not add to your bounty
whose beauty shall be a sheet before me
a statement of itself drawn across the tempest of emblems
so that there is no sun and no unveiling
and no host
only I and then the sheet
and bulk dead