Prix : 62,50 €




  • Category / Instrument : High tenor, soprano and ensemble
  • Orchestration : 2 vl / vla / vlc / cb / clavecin / theorbe
  • Duration : 40'
  • Genre : contemporary
  • Sortiment : Score
  • Number of pages : 37
  • Publisher : Lemoine
  • Code : 27321
  • Published : 01/01/2000
  • ISBN / ISMN : 9790230973212


30/09/2000 - Abbaye de Royaumont - Gérard Lesne - Il Seminario musicale


The title of this cycle makes direct reference to the art form which was so popular in baroque Flanders in the first half of the 17th century. At the outset, Flemish baroque vanitas set up a subtle relationship between the object (for instance, a glass on its side, a piece of overripe fruit or a treatise on geometry) and its symbolic or metaphorical meanings. It is precisely this type of link that lies at the heart of this work: any musical passage composed today, whether one likes it or not, is often the symptom of a rhetorical reminiscence that formerly had a codified meaning. Today, when early music ensembles are much in vogue, the concomitance of newly composed music and a historic background, no matter how distant, implies that the composition is somehow deliberately conniving.
Moreover, the use of historically fairly precisely situated early instruments directs the composer and the listener to a more subtle set of references than would be possible with their modern equivalents. Just as certain recurrent musical forms are dotted about the whole cycle, so certain authors make a periodic appearance, and Montaigne's ideas provide a support for the echoes of hieratic chorales.
In addition, both from a textual and a musical viewpoint, individual cases will deal with subjects that lie slightly outside the sphere of vanitas, notably the melancholy-geometry pairing, which has given rise to a vast amount of speculative literature, as well as a wealth of iconography, as recalled by the pseudo-Aristotelian Alain de Lisle in Problèmes, or the decadent Propertius. Furthermore the implications of the vanitas model will be directed to utopias, such as that, in particular, of the French materialist philosophers of the 18th century (d'Holbach and Meslier), whose ideas (men, women, without preconceived ideas) are so sadly lacking today. The aphoristic form inevitably evokes the critical polemic for which it provides arms.
In the present case, my own cycle of Vanités also represents a sort of statement of my critical position in the field of aesthetic theory. It seems to me that the reactionary points of view available today constitute an almost infinite collection, ranging from stubborn obscurantist beliefs, extolling the "readability" of the sung text above all, if not of all the music (in which case, how are we to take Ciconias's Ballades, the B minor Mass or Pierrot Lunaire?), to the use of early forms. These are but slavishly imitated without any critical mediation (shrink-wrapped pseudo-Dufay or crypto-Gesualdo). Then there are various obscure criteria for the supposed profitability of music, imposing efficiency on music notation (vain illusion!), which only serves to muddy the composer's intentions by beaming a light on the lack of theoretical and historical knowledge of its believers. It should be noted in passing that the heirs of the avant-garde are in no way sheltered from such reactionary posturing.
Finally, just as in Willem Kalf's Vanitas, where a ray of light brings out the emotivity of the darkest objects, the more restrained hues of the piece, sometimes on the threshold of audibility, will furnish critical conditions for the listener to take in the most finely chiselled details.
It is my fervent hope that this music will be heard as a perspective critique of itself, in which conflictual motifs might be considered as the vocabulary proper to this work, like the conscious emergence of the lexicon that history bequeaths us.

Brice Pauset



Composer Brice Pauset was born in Besançon in 1965, and started his musical education by learning the piano, violin and harpsichord before turning to composition. In 1994 he was awarded a grant by the Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet Foundation and became a student at Ircam from 1994 to 1996. [...]


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