18/11/1972 - Paris - Boris de Vinogradov (conductor)
In 1970, strongly influenced by Ligeti in an orchestral piece baptized Altitude 8000, I experimented with a sound continuum that boldly reintroduced, and not without some provocation, fifths, fourths, octaves and "classical" chords. L'Attente is an attempt to apply these ideas to a chamber music ensemble. It is a total rejection, of the solutions then considered à la mode: no "figures" or melodies, no development in the habitual sense, few ruptures and a choice of instrumentation that could seem to be outdated. Today the resulting music seems strange to me, for this reason I had hesitated to let it be played again. It is symptomatic of a critical phase as well as of my research. Its most obvious aspect is its work with continuity, with progressive transformations of sound textures and musical situations - all of which would later be formalized as a concept called "processes".
The piece is a sort of psychological study of the situation of expectation. A posteriori, I explain it like this: one waits for someone who is dear to him, one searches for her among the advancing crowd. A hazy silhouette appears: there she is ! The silhouette approaches, the form becomes clear - no, it was someone else... The excitement dies away. The processes reoccur. Successive disappointments ? or, on the contrary, isn't the expectation better than the arrival of what was awaited ?
The music is like a plastic mass, a sound lava, out of which contours continually try to emerge. A melody, a rhythm seems to take shape as the lava appears to solidify into a recognized sound configuration. But no, it was an illusion, and just as quickly, these apparently familiar elements are reabsorbed into the flow of sound.
In a certain way, it is abstract music, in the sense that one could abstract the purely formal contents from the contours and colours of an ancient painting. Here, one could evoke Ravel's music, from which one had conscientiously expunged any themes, any formal breadth. Only the perfume remains.
By dint of refusing any clear structure, precise sound object, strategy of development or composition, one hovers over the precipice of nothingness. L'Attente's composition was essentially empirical, but one cannot far prolong the tenuity of a paradox.
1 CD Accord, AC4659012
Couleur de mer - L'attente - Treize Couleurs du soleil couchant - Attracteurs étranges - La Barque mystique
Ensemble Court-Circuit, Pierre-André Valade (conductor)