SINFONIA CONCERTANTE FOR VIOLONCELLO AND ORCHESTRA
BASED ON THE STORY BY JAN VALTA
PERFORMED BY THE PILSEN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
VIOLONCELLO SOLO BY CHRISTOPHER LECIAN
COMPOSED AND CONDUCTED BY JAN VALTA
"EPILOGUE" COMPOSED BY X.
1st movement download the 1st movement
Our story takes place in the city of Prague. A young man meets an alchemist. For some curious reason, the alchemist offers the young man an opportunity to work with him and to become his apprentice. The alchemist promises that he'll guide the young man forward, to achieve the most precious thing the universe has to offer a man - The Philosopher's Stone. Its power, can turn all lesser metals into gold, the most precious of all metals and to perfect all imperfect bodies through immortality. Thus, this "Magnum Opus" gives its bearer infinite wealth and life.
But, at the same time, the young man meets a girl. Though he is aware that the Philosopher's Stone needs the full concentration of a man and working on it is incompatible with human love, he falls in love with this girl. He hesitates between choosing a path as he is aware that he can only choose one of them.
One day, the girl tells the young man that they are going to have a child. The young man feels he would have regrets for the rest of his life if he missed this opportunity with the alchemist. The young man's pre-occupation with the Philosopher's Stone prevails his love and he abandons the girl to become the alchemist's apprentice. At the same moment he is entering the alchemist's house, we see the girl, standing at the entrance gate of the hospital.
Important musical themes:
beginning - theme of the alchemist
2:02 - theme of the young man
3:11 - theme of the girl (of love)
4:47 - theme of the child
10:00 - motif of temptation (of longing for wealth and immortality)
18:03 - motif of destiny
2nd movement download the 2nd movement
We find ourselves in the alchemist's workshop, where the alchemist is guiding the young man towards the understanding of The Secret. Gradually, the young man starts to realise the enormity of the path he has chosen. The Stone demands that he must work in solitude - a solitude marked by anxiety over possible failure, solitude without enjoyment of life and solitude without people's laughter and love around him.
Six months pass and the Alchemist believes that the young man has learned enough to create the Stone. A complicated process of transmutation begins. But as it reaches its final stages, the young man's concentration is disturbed by thoughts he has suppressed throughout his six months of solitude. He remembers his girlfriend, her beauty and her goodness. He has a vision
and sees his child, who raises its hands against him. Losing concentration, the process becomes unstable - the creation falters. Where the newly created Philosopher's Stone should be, is now a piece of worthless materia.
The alchemist says to his apprentice that it is necessary to re-start the work from the very beginning.
Important musical themes:
beginning - twilight in the workshop
3:06 - theme of solitude
5:06 - theme of transmutation
3rd movement download the 3rd movement
For events in the third movement, see the screenplay with timecodes:
[Beginning] It is now the 30th April and a Walpurgis Night is beginning; the natural world is confronting the powers of the supernatural. The young man can't imagine undertaking the whole process again. The enormity is too great to comprehend. Therefore, in desperation at what to do, the young man runs away from the alchemist's workshop. Restless and tortured, he wanders through the streets, aimlessly.
Finally, he knows what he has to do: he walks to the Bridge of Suiciders.
[3:11] The night grows darker; the young man leans on the balustrade. Cars pass by and heavy rain chills the atmosphere. He summons all his mental courage and climbs the balustrade. He looks back for one last time.
[3:48] Suddenly, the alchemist appears behind him.
Face to face, they stare at each other; the young man trembling and soaking wet; watches raindrops evaporate silently over alchemist's head.
[4:12] Then, the alchemist raises his hands and speaks a few words in a low voice. Cars miraculously vanish and street lights darken. Clouds disperse and stars appear in the sky. Time stops. A long curtain spreads over the horizon and images start to form. The alchemist now relates his own story.
[4:34] In ancient times, the alchemist also loved a girl. He too had to make a decision between the Stone and Love. He chose the path of the Stone - and gained immortality and wealth. He achieved its creation.
[6:15] At last, the alchemist reveals his true identity. He is the Master of Masters, the Grand Fulcanelli.
[6:39] He finishes telling the apprentice his story. He mounts his machine and with supernatural speed he leaves, heading for the horizon. The curtain of heavens rips apart creating myriads of glowing sparkles, which then disappear in the night wind.
Street lamps spring into light again, the vanished cars re-appear on the bridge, drivers blow their car-horns. Time is moving again.
[7:00] The young man finds himself in the middle of the bridge: he has no Stone, he has neither girl nor child and now he is without a Master. Step-by-step, he slowly moves to the house of his love.
[7:45] He goes to his girlfriend's house. He looks up to her window, longing to see her, and to talk with her. However, his better judgment knows that she won't want to see him.
[8:05] So he goes to the only place on earth where he can still live: the alchemist's workshop. He sits down at his table and retrieves from a hiding place the only remaining photograph of her he possesses, the only one he hasn't destroyed six months ago. He feels empty, his life ended.
[9:16] Suddenly, a shadow appears on the wall before him. He slowly turns his head. In the doorway stands the girl. Without a word, they look at each other. The girl ventures a bit closer. His glance moves away from her face. The girl is full with child, she has kept their baby.
(Creating the Stone is dependent upon good light. As they cling to each other, a morning sunbeam passes through the girl's hair and reaches the cold motionless retort on the table. The material inside activates coming back to life, changing its colour to a bright shining red; the transmutation is finished. Neither he nor she mentions it.)
[10:58] The couple leave the alchemist's workshop. The young man puts his sweater around the girl's shoulders - in the early May morning, it is still chilly. Huddling close together they enter the street.
[11:36] At the corner, the young man once again looks back. In his long black coat, Fulcanelli stands in the middle of the street. The alchemist and his apprentice look at one another. The alchemist slowly nods smiling imperceptibly - his part in the young man's life has been accomplished. The young man understands that his child will become his Philosopher's Stone, a new Magnum Opus; for a child means an infinite wealth; and in children lie our immortality.
The young pair leave. Fulcanelli, with the Philosopher's Stone beating in his hand, departs in the opposite direction.
[12:13] Coda (credits)
Epilogue - composed by X. download the Epilogue
Dedicated to J.B.