21/10/2006 - Paris, Radio France - Orchestre National de France, Alain Altinoglu (conductor)
The starting point of this piece was Van Gogh's painting Wheat Field with Crows, one of the very last he completed before his suicide on 27th July 1890 and which has often been considered a portent of his desperate act.
This painting immediately reminded me of these French verses by Rainer Maria Rilke from the Quatrains valaisans: 'Chemins qui ne mènent nulle part, entre deux prés, que l'on dirait avec art de leur but détournés, / Chemins qui souvent n'ont devant eux rien d'autre en face / Que le pur espace et Ia saison.' (Paths that lead nowhere, between two meadows, which one would say were artfully deviated from their goal, / Paths that often have nothing before them / Other than pure space and the season).
These verses provided the title to a book by the philosopher Martin Heidegger, Chemins qui ne mènent nulle part (often translated as Off the Beaten Path), which l discovered during my philosophy studies. In this book, which is of capital importance in the field of phenomenology, Heidegger particularly examines the metaphysical dimension of poetry, starting from Rilke's work. My reflection on this work led me to think that music also possesses another metaphysical dimension, in the same way as poetry. As Heidegger says: 'The work of art opens in its way the being of being.' All my works tend to evoke this 'third dimension' of music. For me, the essential aspect of a work always lies in the attempt to suggest another world, this 'elsewhere' that is beyond us-the main theme of Alio.
In this respect, Omen brings in a whole network of correspondences that meet up here in a synthetic summary of the themes that haunt my universe: the close relation with painting, poetry and the sacred.
First of all, the allusion to the Van Gogh painting puts this score in the series of those that were inspired by painting: my viola concerto was centred on Nicolas de Stael, whereas other painters, such as Turner and Whistler, inspired other works.
Next, there is the very figure of Van Gogh himself: his spiritual journey, just like De Stael's, makes him one of those 'comets' from another world about whom the poetess Marina Tsvetaïeva speaks. The title of Omen, which has the same meaning in Latin, thus evokes the mysterious, tragic destiny of this visionary painter. The idea of 'trajectory' (which here joins the 'path' image) is another aspect of the recurrent elements in my music: the work is in three parts, tracing the itinerary of these Quatrains valaisans: 1. Chemins, 2. Nulle part, 3. Le pur espace.
Orchestral writing remains my favoured mode of expression due to the reflection that it induces on the organisation of the sound space and its depth, and the work on timbres: here, the orchestra becomes a universe of movement conducive to expressing this idea of whirling, which, in this painting by Van Gogh, is present everywhere: the flight of the crows, the inverted sky, the blaze of the wheat field...
Omen was commissioned by Musique Nouvelle en Liberté for the 'Paris de la Musique' series.
Edith Canat de Chizy
Translated by John Tyler Tuttle
Omen was indirectly inspired by van Gogh's last painting Wheat Field with Crows that he completed before his suicide and by words from one of Rilke's Quatrains valaisans that might have been inspired by van Gogh too. Paths that lead nowhere, between two meadows... Paths that often have nothing between them/Other than pure space and the season. The composer also mentions Heidegger who wrote a book titled Chemins qui ne mènent nulle part, thus clearly alluding to Rilke's words. I am no Heidegger expert so I do not know how far a deeper knowledge of his work might help. At the risk of repeating myself - again - the music is what really counts. In this as in the other pieces recorded here the music is always superbly crafted, full of instrumental imagination and often quite beautiful.
2(+picc).2(+ca).2(+clB).2(+Cbn) / 18.104.22.168 / hp / pno / timb / 3perc / 22.214.171.124.6