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Length: c. 16 minutes
Orchestration: flute, 2 oboes, clarinet, bassoon, 2 horns, tuba, percussion, and strings
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years (…)
According to Dutch music journalist and television host Bas van Putten, these lines from Greek poet Constantine Cavafy’s Ithaki (1911) inspired Ketting’s Reisvierluik (Travel Quadtych). That cycle was begun in 1992 with De overtocht (The Passage) and continued in 1993 with Het oponthoud (The Delay) and De aankomst (The Arrival). Ketting completed it the following year with Kom, over de zeeën (Come, Over the Sea), commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
“Each piece represents one part of a four-stage journey, full of subtle references to each other within changing contexts,” Maarten Brandt wrote in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. “A parallel to such a process may be made with film editing in which a visual vocabulary is developed through shuffling and recombination.”
Or as Putten wrote, “It is the music of a spectator. He sees and hears nature, the people, and their music. In De aankomst… Ketting meets Sibelius. He follows this composer’s restlessly scurrying strings through his binoculars, in the manner of a forester watching the birds.”
Susan Key is a musicologist specializing in 20th-century American music.