Cadernos is inspired by Notebooks from the House of the Dead (1862) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881). It follows Alexandr Petrovich Goryanchikov’s narrative arc and is divided into three movements:
Passos (Footsteps) reflects the sounds made by the prisoners during their walks on the small prison patio. This movement’s claustrophobic feeling is suggested by its circular structure, and by the exploration of the same material through inversion, retrogression, diminution and augmentation.
In Passos, melodic manipulation takes a primary role in contrast with the second movement, Histórias (Stories), which is built upon rhythmic manipulation. Here, different ‘stories’ are related simultaneously, paralleling the narrative construction of the book.
Liberdade (Freedom), the last and shortest of the three movements, presents a moment of lyricism and simplicity, ending the work in a hopeful tone.