22/10/2001 - Théâtre du Lierre, Territoires polychromes - Paris (France) - Les Temps Modernes, Fabrice Pierre (conductor)
These bagatelles were commissioned by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Cultural Affairs (with the aid of the French Institute in Hungary) for the Ensemble Recherche, and premiered at the Witten Festival in Germany on 22 April 1995.
They create a poetic art form that sounds the depth of our musical influences, in order to seek out what is so typically French in music, trying to discover why some of our work is so 'very French', when in fact many of us are thoroughly intrigued by German music. The pieces play on the anthology or suite, and are like a game of hopscotch where heaven and earth are to be found on each side of the Rhine.
1. The Harmonious Blacksmith (scherzo-trio-scherzo)
Although quoting Handel's joyful piece, so famous in music schools everywhere, this work actually evokes another blacksmith who is particularly well known in Germany, namely Alberich.
2. Clarinet Solo (a breath)
The three wind instruments should be entirely solo in these pieces, but gradually matter crystallises around them and their solos are eluded.
3. Night effect on ...
This is the sort of atmospheric piece in which the French are said to excel. Could be! Just change the name of the town where the piece is to be played.
4. Les barricades mystérieuses (lively)
Here is the vertical piece in this collection: a series of eleven chords of varying density is repeated seven times, with one chord per bar. Each chord has a different instrumentation, except for the first which acts as a sort of chorus to present each cycle of eleven. The music is a sort of distillation of the full instrumentation of the "gold-diggers turned into jewellers" described by Helmut Lachenmann, with the more calibrated French contemporary music in mind. The title comes from Couperin.
5. Oboe Solo (a third)
The oboe is not very exposed in these bagatelles. It does not play at all in pieces 2 and 8, and only with a reed (which means producing barely perceptible sounds of breathing) in pieces 1, 6 and 9. In the oboe's own solo, it plays only two notes ('meadow scene'), thus resembling the stereotypical pastoral sound with which it is associated.
6. Bones music
It is perfectly possible to go to the source of instrumental sounds, taking into account no more than the movement needed to produce them, and putting aside the media by which they become audible - breath in one case, and the bow in the other. Which leads to spectral music, but not in the same way as has been developed by the French school, The music has not been fleshed out, and consists of nothing but bones.
7. Homage to Claire-Jeanne Jézéquel (two notes)
This piece was conceived during the performance of the tragedy Thyestes by Seneca, Two infinite frequencies - perhaps emanating from a projector, or the air-conditioning of the theatre - struck me as a fortuitous call reminding me of the art of a young sculptress. Whom I envy for her ability to create silent objects, white and perfect. Placed on the floor and almost unnoticed. I would like to imagine the same thing in music art that has gone AWOL. Running along the plinths and underlining what the limits of perception can teach us by renewing sight and sound.
8. Flute Solo (distant piping)
The flute plays whistle tone, while the bows play what a violinist (Jean Tuffet. now deceased) called 'eternal rosin'. Distant melodies (where the whistled harmonics are at breaking point), answered by the flute-sounds of the string antiphony.
9. Little danse macabre (und E.D. ist auch dabei...)
His piece is a sort of miniaturisation of another work for sextet. Le gel, par jeu, a joyful Danse macabre (see also Saint Saens) in the medieval tradition, dedicated to the bright but deathladen universe of the American poet Emily Dickinson, who was undoubtedly one of the greatest poets of all time.
1 CD aeon, AE0106, Mes béatitudes
Born on January 17th, 1958, Gérard Pesson studied at the Sorbonne and then at the Paris CNSM, where he studied composition with Ivo Malec, orchestration with Marius Constant and analysis with Betsy Jolas. In 1986, he founded a contemporary music publication entitled Entretemps. From 1990 to 1992 [...]