Filtering Ballade opus 10 n°4 by Johannes Brahms for clarinet and string quartet.
In transcribing a ballade by Brahms for two instruments, I have tried to fix objectively the strange contamination that exists between musical invention and memory. The works that haunt us often crop up when we think we have plucked an idea from nowhere, and as they spring back they colour our obsessions, for, in art, research is a concomitant of unceasing archaeology.
This ballade from opus 10 literally haunted me for years, with its strange form, the absence of any high notes, the beauty of the opening barcarolle movement and the central cantando, where the melody is drowned by a shimmering texture, interrupted by a sort of chorale. If it stayed with me for so long, it is because I never heard it other than in my memory, where it gradually rusted, like something fallen into the sea. Trying to transcribe it was like trying to fish it out again. Discovering it was suitable and indeed contained what my own musical work had added, going so far perhaps as to conceal the ballad, when in fact it took on a precise shape, like coral growing on any matter close to hand, exaggerating the form it encloses. My memory had always multiplied those few bars where Brahms makes a chord turn in on itself, and in order to remain faithful to this false impression, I wrote them out as such. For instrumental reasons, the Brahms ballade has been transposed up a semitone to C major, a decisive key.
1 CD aeon, AE0106, Mes béatitudes