Year of composition
During one of my trips to Ukraine I heard the extraordinary story, caught in between fact and legend, of Queen Olga of Kiev. It is believed that in the early 10th century, Olga coldly planned and executed a vengeance that would eventually devastate all the Derevlians, a tribe responsible for the death of her husband Igor, the Prince of Kiev. According to the legend, three times did the Drevlians send their ambassadors to Olga in order to convince her to marry their own Prince. And on each occasion Olga found a new way of getting rid of them through trickery and deceit: by burying them in the ground, setting them on fire locked inside a banya (sauna), and having everyone whipped to death after a banquet.
The fourth time she took her vengeance was when she marched on the capital of Drevlians and besieged it for the whole summer. In the end, Olga took the city by offering a misleading mercy—she asked for a tribute of three pigeons and three sparrows from each household in the city, only to release them back with a burning branch tied to their tails. The scared birds returned to their nests, and a fire ravaged the remains of a town that chose to kill the wrong king.
This work does not programmatically reproduce the course of events depicted in this legend. It does, though, evoke its violent drive. I was tempted by the idea of writing a complex portrait of revenge inspired by the figure of Queen Olga of Kiev and by the horror, agitation and yearning for destruction and triumph arising from her story. This is why this piece does not only consist of aggressive marches and screaming echoes. It also displays cold-blooded processes, which will lead to a series of relentless waves and a final apotheosis. It is important to note that I did not intend to glorify vengeance nor violence, but to write a reflection on such phenomena through music.