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Figures Outside a Dacha, with Snowfall, and an Abbey in the Background (2020-2022)

The final shot of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Nostalghia (1983), shows a man and a dog sitting on the ground near a pool of water, staring down the lens, with a small Russian farmhouse in the background. The camera zooms out slowly over the course of almost two minutes, revealing that the entire scene is contained within a vast Italian abbey, only glimpsed initially through the reflection of the arched windows in the pool. The camera pauses, and snow begins to fall.

This extraordinary combination of earthy naturalism with mystical dream-logic is typical of Tarkovsky’s later work; the initial exterior scene of the man and his companion outside the dacha is subsumed into an interior scene within the abbey, which is revealed as a secondary implied exterior scene as the first flakes of snow descend.


Throughout the film, we have watched this man recall fragments of his earlier life, each time with uncanny imperfections and paradoxes typical of idealised memories. In this final iconic tableau, there is an almost cosmic sense of resolution, as though he has become one with his memories, or indeed become a memory himself.


Steven Daverson, 2022

Duration: 20 Minutes

Instrumentation: 2(1+Picc,2=AFl+BFl). 0. 2(1+BCl,2=BCl+CbCl). 2(2=Cbsn). ASax. TSax. / 2. 2(2=Flug). 2 (2+ATbn). 1 / EGuit. Pno. 2Perc. / Strings 9. 9. 6. 6. 6. (Min.) / Live Electronics

World Première: 21st January 2023; WDR Funkhaus Wallrafsplatz, Köln; WDR Sinfonieorchester, Manuel Nawri (cond.); Carl Faia, Steven Daverson (elec.)

UK Première: February 2025; Barbican Centre, London; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov (cond.);  Carl Faia, Steven Daverson (elec)

Co-commissioned by WDR Sinfonieorchester and the BBC Symphony Orchestra

The practical, notational, and aesthetic elements of the electronics for this piece—including instrumental amplification, reverbs, re-synthesised bell sounds, and spatialisation—were created in collaboration with Carl Faia, whose generosity and support throughout this project was invaluable. 

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