Rob Dirksen: Resilience

CD - Rob Dirksen is both a double bassist with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and a composer. With Resilience, he answered the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra’s call for a new work for a live-streamed concert when the Netherlands was in lockdown in 2021.
cover: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra image: Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest
cover: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra image: Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest

Dirksen composed a compelling work reflecting on this period marked by the pandemic and centring on the theme of ‘resilience’ in the most general sense of the word.

‘As I was writing the first bars of the work, the term “resilience” kept coming to mind,’ wrote the composer in notes to the work. ‘That’s because the music seemed to possess a naturally upward force. Resilience can manifest itself in various ways – not just as nerve or will, but also as a natural, innate quality; that which is light will find its way upward. Since the work was written during lockdown as a result of the pandemic, the topic is very fitting. Because of the worrying situation we find ourselves in, I like to think of resilience in this way.

‘The work begins with a statement of resilience, a melody that has an exuberant quality to it and sounds like a philosophical assertion. Resilience then reflects the despair we can feel when forced to face the paradox and absurdity of life.

The pressure builds, and then the music erupts into an exuberant dance of energy. Just as the music seems to switch to an even faster and lighter dance, the motion stops, and we’re swept away into a hushed, solemn phrase, as if the music wants to say, “It’s not all that simple.”

Then, when the opening melody returns, the setting is more subjective, more personal. The music then totally descends back to where there is little left to hope for, and the solo violin depicts the protagonist in his despair. Just at that moment, a new way forward is found, and the piece ends in an energetic, optimistic apotheosis.’