Elogio de la sombra


For string quartet


17 min.


2 vn, va, vc


Premiered by
Kamus quartet
Jan 28 2016
Kaustinen Chamber Music Week
Kaustinen, Finland

Elogio de la Sombra is an exploration of poetry in music. My inspiration was Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges’s poems of which dreamlike and mystical atmosphere and thematics I was intrigued by. Recurring themes in Borges’s poems are shadows, light and darkness, dreams and mirrors which serve as metaphors for solitude, longing, death, identity and existence.

The piece is in nine movements, each movement inspired by a different poem. I aimed to follow closely each poem’s content and let the poems direct each movement’s dramaturgy, character and musical material in detail.

The movements are Amanecer (Dawn), Despedida (Farewell), Los espejos (Mirrors), Alguien (Someone), Elogio de la sombra (Praise of the shadows), El oro de los tigres (The gold of the tigers), Himno (Hymn), La joven noche (The young night) and El sueno (The dream). All in all, the work illustrates a day of events beginning from Dawn (Amanecer) and ending to The dream (El sueno).

Past Performances

Aug 21 2018
Uusinta Ensemble
Helsinki Music Centre, Finland

Aug 18 2017
Siggi string quartet
The Nordic House
Reykjavík, Iceland

Jul 07 2017
Quatuor Bozzini
Time of Music Festival
Viitasaari, Finland

Jan 29 2016
Kamus Quartet
Kaustinen Chamber Music Week
Pietarsaari, Finland

Jan 28 2016
Kamus Quartet
Kaustinen Chamber Music Week
Kaustinen, Finland

Sheet Music

Schott Music
Schott Music GmbH & Co. KG
Weihergarten 5
55116 Mainz
+49 6131 246-0

Press Quotes

“In all the works, Hilli’s original, elegant grip was heard. Elogio de la sombra is a nine-piece miniature set for string quartet (Maria Puusaari, Aleksi Kotila, Max Savikangas, Pinja Laine) which recites the poems of Jorge Luis Borges. The fact that the original poems could not be seen seemed just to emphasize the music’s own poetry: every gesture, with threatening alarms or tangled torrents of speech, had a distinct emphasis. Even though the series was bouncing between opposites, the atmosphere remained united at all times in a deepening exploration of Borges’s dreamy world of shades.”
Auli Särkiö-Pitkänen, Rondo, Aug 22 2018

“The string quartet Elogio de la Sombra, written to Jorge Luis Borge’s nocturnal poems, offered a plethora of new playing techniques with an intensity that was the most apparent when the strings barely rubbed at the strings. The nine movement names, taken from the poems, from dawn to dusk, served as a program that made it easy for the listener to take the music with a given meaning.”
Wilhelm Kvist, HBL, Aug 22 2018

“Elogio de la sombra (2015) for string quartet transforms into music nine poems by Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges. Mirrors, darkness, and tigers give rise to a musical whole that is as unpredictable as it is rich in colour, a fascinating play between moments of calm, passion, and feverish activity.”
Anna Pulkkis, FMQ, Dec 04 2020