The Meitar Ensemble from Tel-Aviv, Israel under the direction of one of Europe’s finest interpreters of new music, conductor Pierre-André Valade, present the music of Philippe Leroux.
Reson II (2017, 14’) **
for flute/piccolo, viola, violoncello, piano
Continuo(ns) (1994, 15’)
for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano
marchons marchons (2016, 10’)
for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano
Postlude à l’épais (2016, 10’) for quintet
for flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano
** Canadian Premiere
Amit Dolberg – Piano, Artistic Director
Roy Amotz – Flute
Gilad Harel – Clarinet
Moshe Aharonov – violin
Jonathan Gotlibovich – Cello
Pierre-André Valade – conductor
Prélude à l’épais (2017) is a commission from the Fondation Arte Musica for the Meitar Ensemble inspired by a painting in the Pierre Bourgie collection in Montréal: l’Annonciation by Jan Provoost (16th C). A distinctive feature of this work is the requirement that the musicians, in addition to playing their instruments in the traditional manner, must draw letters and words in space and accompany these actions with the corresponding vocal sounds. The letters come from a phrase by Paul Claudel taken from his theatre piece, L’annonce faite à Marie: “I return in the night, far above my night, to listen to you.” The calligraphic gestures in space transform near the end of the piece into a simulation of the gestures of painting as the lines and directions suggested by the gazes, rays of light and, in general, the features of the painting.
Reson II (2017) is the second in a series of pieces that continues my research and writing involving resonance as both a physical, acoustic phenomenon as well as a metaphorical concept. Resonance is, of course, at the heart of the acoustic reality of acoustic musical instruments as well as the spaces in which music and sound of all types and genres are experienced. The study of resonance through filters, physical modeling, and virtual and architectural spaces has provided valuable insight into the sonic world we inhabit and for which sonic artists create. Reson II employs resonance as a conceptual framework with the objective of deriving musical elements and objects from the resonant characteristics of the instruments of the ensemble, especially the piano. Resonance also figures in the structural activity of the piece (the piece consists of four sections: Risonanza macchinazione, Résonance interne, Resonancia liquida, Risonanza sospendere) with certain elements “resonating” in an ever-evolving and increasingly processed fashion throughout the course of the work. Reson II was commissioned and premiered by the Meitar Ensemble of Tel-Aviv.
A French state commission, Continuo(ns) (1994), four flute, clarinet, piano, violin and violoncello, and dedicated to the composer Philippe Hurel, was composed in Paris and Rome between 1993 and 1994. The term “continuo” makes, to begin with, is an allusion to that of a continuum, a notion particularly dear to me. For me, the main concern at the end of the 20th century was the progressive acquisition of the continuity between pitch (micro-intervals), rhythms (speeding up, slowing down, metric modulation), timbre (chains of dissolving timbre, morphing) and space (electronic spatialization or the spatial placement of musicians). There also exists what one could call a “perceptual continuum” that permits the listener, and the composer, to establish a continuity between different parameters such as between pitches and rhythms, between pitches and timbre or pitches and space. For example, when one slows down extremely a sustained sound, it becomes a rhythmic pulsation; a timbre can be constructed uniquely par a judicious choice of pitches; or, it is possible to associate a spatial trajectory with a certain melodic movement, if one wishes to simulate the movement of a sound source that approaches for afar. But the term “continuo” is also a specific reference to the music of the Baroque and the idea of the persistent pulsation of the figured bass. This almost uninterrupted pulsation serves as the foundation of Continuo(ns) to develop that which I call a “continuum of activity,” meaning a continual transformation of figures or sound objects. Therefore, in the same way as a topology (or more simply the manipulation of a dough to be sculpted), one can transform the structure of a cup into that of a torus while keeping the structure of the two objects around an empty space, I transform a fluctuating rhythmic pulsation by a simple process of slowing down and shifts in time, and vice versa. Basically, it is movement that I am most interested in, its coming into being, its maintenance, its death, and the fashion in which it passes from one musical figure to another. In Continuo(ns), this movement, for me, addresses something of the order of vital energy since I started to composer this piece in Paris while I was seriously ill. At the end of several pages, I stopped my work without knowing if I could take it up again one day, because of an important operation and convalescence. I finally succeeded to complete the piece in Rome while I was a resident of the Villa Medicis. This, without a doubt, explains the title of the trilogy of which Continuo(ns) is the first piece, (d’)Aller (concerto for violin and ensemble) is the second, and Plus loin (for large orchestra) is the final: Continuon(ns) (d)Aller Plus loin (Continue to go further).
marchons, marchons was initially destined for the festival Expo Milano in 2015, which had the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” In thinking about this notion of “feeding the planet,” I set my sights on a troubling text from La Marseillaise (1792): « Qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons » (“That an impure blood waters our furrows”), a verse that was taken up by the theme of the festival and given a critical social and political perspective. Apart from the national French anthem, I chose a national Israeli song in which one finds text similar to La Marseillaise – “of blood that waters/nourishes the earth.” The piece is divided in two sections each of which corresponds with one of the two citations. The translation of these texts into morse code serves as the musical foundation of the piece. In each section, the text and the morse code are treated differently, both rhythmically and conceptually. In the first section, the rhythm of the code is used according to a very slow tempo that marks the attack of an ensemble gesture. This gesture is repeated in each part and its superposition leads to a particularly irregular result. The second section consists of a quasi-unison in perpetual movement in which the morse code rhythm determines the grouping of rapid lines.
A commission from the Meitar Ensemble of Tel-Aviv, to which the work is dedicated, Postlude à l’épais, for flute, clarinet, piano, violin and violoncello, was composed in 2016. Like other pieces of mine that deal with a certain subject (De la vitesse for six percussion, De la disposition for large orchestra, De la texture for ensemble…), Postlude à l’épais explores the notion of “musical density” (épaisseur musicale). A memory is at the origin of the structural and harmonic research that animates the piece. I was in a train. I must have been 17 years old. I hadn’t slept the night before and I was exhausted. I recall dozing off, my head against the window of the train, with a crow flying in the sky before my eyes. When I awoke, several minutes or hours later, I was at the same place, in the same train, but going in the opposite direction and, an astonishing coincidence, my eyes immediately fell upon an identical flight of a crow, following the trajectory of the first flight, starting from the same place where it had stopped before my drowsiness. As if the two where only a single movement, interrupted, despite the passage of time and the change of direction of the train. The half-sleep was like a gap, an opening in the density of temporal unfolding, that allowed me to glimpse another reality. Postlude à l’épais attempts to manifest in sound this sentiment: that a certain instant can possess more or less density or thickness. The work begins with a texture of great sonic density and heightened temporal compactness, that is brought about by an extremely rapid repeated chord that is perceived initially in the form of a granular sound formation. Little by little, these repetitions become less frequent at the same time as they slow down. What emerges, between the thirty occurrences of this chord transformed by frequency modulation (with the note A as modulator), is another musical progression based this time on harmonic and timbral density. This music emerges equally from superimposed lines of continuous and discontinuous sounds based on the harmonic spectrum of the note A, that also feed the cracks produced in the time of the piece by the initial slowing down. These stratified densities vanish delicately, leaving only temporal density the task of shouting out the infinite solitude of the exclusive and deserted horizontal. While the continual slowing down of the chord behaves like a fixed and inevitable structure, the outpouring that arises from these intersections, between each of its appearances, is established in a spontaneous and free fashion. In a certain way, it is “the beach under the paving stones!” Postlude à l’épais is the third piece of a trilogy including Prélude à l’épais and L’épais.