• 29657-hurel-philippe-en-spirale

En spirale


a sample



09/02/2022 - Paris, Festival Présences, Radio France - Jérôme Comte (clarinet)

Composing a piece for a solo instrument is a real pleasure when done in collaboration with a musician one knows, values on a human level, and with whom strong musical ties are shared. In keeping, this new score, En spirale, was composed for my friend Jérôme Comte who in 2018 premiered Quelques traces dans l'air for clarinet and orchestra.

To give this piece a slightly frantic character, I paradoxically returned - as I do at regular intervals - to rather methodical work involving calculations of rhythmic patterns and harmonic fields.
In parallel, we will hear how the playing modes accumulate and disorient the perception of rhythmic structures that could prove to be overly straightforward.
The piece’s construction comes about through the reiteration and looping of harmonic-melodic and rhythmic material, and it was as the composition the first part advanced, very energetic and dense, that I felt the notion of spirality pervade my way of organizing the musical discourse.

At the same time, I became acquainted with work by the computer engineer Barry W. Boehm and his method for developing complex programs. In it, he describes the spiral model that, “contrary to the waterfall model, does not begin with the principle that software development tasks must be organized in a linear manner, but rather in an iterative manner. The phases do not evolve uniquely, step by step, but in batches, according to a spiral. Through this cyclical repetition, the project advances relatively slowly toward fixed objectives, but as a counterpart, the risk that the development process fails, is drastically reduced due to regular monitoring.”

Beyond that reference which describes the compositional process of my piece so well, while remaining a metaphor - I am above all a musician -, I wanted to compose a score that creates tension for the soloist, and not by simple hypothetical virtuosity, but through subtle writing that leaves little room for ensuing "postponements", urging the creation of a clear formal line, without detours.

The piece is comprised of three identifiable parts and ends with a sort of perpetuum that emerges to counterbalance the "fragmented" aspect of the first part. This section appears to be a return to more characteristic clarinet writing but is in fact rapidly contorted by the reappearance of events from the beginning of the score, more discontinuous and incisive and actually constituent of the work’s overall colour.

Philippe Hurel

En spirale


a sample


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Ensemble intercontemporain et Radio France
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