Interior at Petworth (2005)

Moritz Eggert

flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, viola, and cello

“I did not paint it to be understood, but I wished to show what such a scene was like.” (J.M.W. Turner)

Interior at Petworth is the most mysterious picture among Turner’s late works and has puzzled generations of art scholars. The puzzle begins with the fact that no one really knows for sure what is being represented in the picture (at a time when abstract or non-representational painting was still unimaginable). What is certain is that it belongs to a series of pictures painted at the estate of Turner’s friend, George Wyndham. At the time the picture was painted, Wyndham had just died, and the picture is often interpreted as being a kind of farewell to the beloved wide halls of the Petworth estate that Turner now had to leave behind him for good.

Interior at Petworth is a space completely free of boundaries, a more or less associa-tive collection of apparently recognisable objects which, even in their arrangement, break out of the corset of the recognisable. (…)

In certain ways, my 8 Variations on a Picture of J.M.W. Turner are an expression of my increasing discontent with what increasingly comes across as a self-reproductive, self-referential “genre” in “new music.” It is an expression of my boredom with pieces the beginnings of which already evoke a definite ending, a clearly defined “style,” a definite course, along with a frequent lack of vitality, feeling of freedom and genuine surprise. At the same time, my work represents distrust towards a task of any significance in favour of utter indeterminacy. It is not for nothing that the “Interior” at Petworth is indeed an interior turning towards the outside, as it were.

Interior at Petworth is not an intentionally puzzling piece; everything is in fact presented nakedly and openly, but it renounces any form of pre-drilled meaning. There are variations, but no theme. The piece constantly breaks the rules that prescribe a “proper” composition. A farewell, therefore, founded upon a certain sadness, but behind the open coffin light breaks out and the removal of boundaries is not an end but a new departure.

Moritz Eggert, 2005

Performance