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Between Tides – Västerås konserthus

November 15 @ 19:00 - 20:30

Hosokawa – Stunden-Blumen (2008) 14’
cl, vln, vlc, pi

The work, dedicated to Momo Kodama whose name in Japanese means “peach”, allows Toshio Hosokawa to continue his cycle on the time of flowers. After Silent Flowers (string quartet), Lotusblume (mixed choir), Blossoming (string quartet), Stunden-Blumen takes up the theme of ikebana, Japanese floral art. Cut just after blooming, the flowers express a “hidden death”, they die with the flow of time: an expression of beauty and its decline, of the sadness experienced in the face of the brevity of life.

“It is the blossoming of beauty before returning to nothingness… In the same way, sounds emerge from nothingness before returning there. I therefore tried to express the beauty of the newborn sound and its short life. Music must be able to render this ephemeral passage of sounds and not be a construction intended to resist time or to counter it. (Toshio Hosokawa)

Music of the moment, which here avoids any idea of sterile waiting, whose sources are found in the strength of Japanese tradition. Stunden-Blumen, with the same formation as the Quartet pour la fin du Temps, wants to be, in a way, the mirror of Messiaen’s work: “Contrary to the end of time, I would like to create a piece which would imply “the beginnings of time » or its “origins”. By taking as a starting point a sustained note which forms the matrix of the piece, a harmony between yin and yang is established, and the tension between the two will produce the “sound flower” and the “song”. »

Hosokawa, with Stunden-Blumen, offers an elegy of nature, made of poetry and silence. The work is also inspired by a tale by Michael Ende, Momo und die Stundenblumen, which reveals the place where time was born. A thief stole it and Momo must fight to find this lost place.

With the “Flowers of the Hours”, we find the composer’s favorite themes: fragility, the birth of sound, the ephemeral, waiting (often on a single note) and the contemplation of nature.

Pierre Boulez – Derive 1 (1984) 6’
fl, cl, vln, vlc, pi, vib

Alongside the composition of Repons, Pierre Boulez created several short pieces for small ensembles which exploit certain ideas that arose during the gestation of this large-scale work.

Dérive is based on the proliferation of a simple harmonic structure: a series of six chords which are permuted and which each contain the six notes of the cryptogram of William Glock, to whom the piece is dedicated, then six transpositions forming an inverted cryptogram.

In this work, resonance plays a central role: the piano actually holds all the notes of the lowest octave throughout the piece, allowing the notes to sound more freely and with a greater richness of harmonics. . The ornamental and melodic figures intersect in a climate of jubilation until an elided and abrupt ending.

Misato Mochizuki – Intermezzi I (1998) 8′
fl, pf

The cycle « Intermezzi » (I for flute and piano ; II for solo koto ; other pieces will follow) was inspired by Roland Barthes’ (1915-1980) theory of  ‘fragmented discourse’. Many of his books are written in this form : without any predetermined order of argumentation, various themes are successively thought through and thus unimagined associations develop while reading. This rhethorical form epitomises the simultaneity of various layers of thought, the mutual collision and densification of concepts. On permanently shifting ground, the attentive reader has no choice but to generate a new type of synthesis. Gradually, through the use of small thought-prompts, a unified view is prepared ; it is accomplished precipitously, and crystallises in a novel perspective. Parhaps, this is, an elegant way of grasping the unfathomable by comprehensibly accumulating the multiplicity of its manifestations. In the way my music is perceived, I am seeking a similar experience and that disengages me from any strict planning of the form and the technique of composition. My musical ideas have the appearance of improvisation, of a non-calculated process and my music only becomes meaningful in the very moment of events unfolding.

« What! By lining up fragments in a sequence, no organizational structure would be possible ? Oh yes it would : the fragment is like the idea  oc the cycle in music (Bonne Chanson, Dichterliebe): every piece stands by itself, and yet it is never anything but an insert between its neighbouring pieces. The work itself is made of nothing but that which is outside of the text. It is maybe Schumann who, better than anybody else (before Webern), understood and put into practice this aesthetic of the fragment. He called the fragment the « intermezzo ». In his compositions he more and more frequently wrote intermezzi : ultimately everything he wrote was interspersed. But between what and what ? What does it mean to have a sequence exclusively consisting of interruptions ? »

« There is an ideal type to the fragment: a high degree of condensedness, not of thought or wisdom or truth (as in the maxim) but of musicality. ‘Tone’, something that is articulated or sung, a statement, is to be juxtaposed to ‘development’: sonoroity must be supreme. There is no cadence in Webern’s Short Pieces : how masterfully he manages to be concise. »

« Writing in fragments: in that case, the fragments are like boulders lined up on the circumference of the circle : I lay myself out all around, my little universe is all piecework, and at the centre: what? »
(Excerpts from « Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes»)

« Intermezzi I » consists of seven brief fragments, musical ideas which are arranged in an imaginary circle. I wanted to see how an emotion could spring from such patchwork. The interpreters whisper a series of words taken from Roland Barthes : Incidents (mini-textes plis, haïkus, notations, jeux de sens, tout ce qui tombe, comme une feuille)  [Incidentals (mini-texts, folds, haikus, annotations, puns, fall, leaves)]

Misato Mochizuki

Tour Takemitsu – Between Tides (1993) 14’
vln, vlc, pi

Between Tides is one of the last pieces that Toru Takemitsu (1930–1996) based on water imagery, an important feature of his music throughout his career. Rhythmically undulating phrases suggest the movement of tides and lend an improvisatory and narrative feel to the work. The harmonic language of the composition seems to draw from a stunning blend of influences, including neo- Romantic tertian harmonies and more complex sonorities reminiscent of Duke Ellington or French composer Olivier Messiaen, two prime influences on Takemitsu’s music.

Betsy Jolas – Femme le soir (2018) 20’
vlc, pi

• Lulling
• Songeries
• Shall we…
• Et toi, la bas…?
• Mots de sable
• Qui parle?
• Sing Maria!
• Bonjour

The great lied tradition entered my musical life many years ago thanks to my mother, a native of Louisville (KY), who had, among other gifts, a beautiful voice and was sent to Berlin to study singing in 1912.

I was myself still in my teens when I started accompanying her and thus discovered very early the rich lied repertoire which has since nurtured a good part of my thoughts on vocal music. Over the years I became interested in the way this repertoire had notably influenced instrumental music and began studying its favorite form: the cycle. I have thus written so far several such sets, featuring various solo instruments with orchestra or piano.

Following the tradition, my own cycles often have a general title and I have recently started to indicate sub-titles as well, for their power of suggestion in the absence of a sung text.
Composed in 2017-18, Femme le soir was premiered at the Reid Hall in Paris on the December 3rd by Anssi Karttunen and Nicolas Hodges to whom the piece is dedicated. (Betsy Jolas)

Maurice Ravel – Pavane pour une infante défunte arr. 7’
fl, cl, vln, vlc, pi, perc

From his student days until the years between the World Wars, Maurice Ravel habitually attended the elegant and stylish salon of Princess Edmond de Polignac (1865-1943). She was an American, whose maiden name was Winnaretta Singer, and she became heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. She was also a noted patron of the arts. It was this princess who commissioned Ravel to write his six-minute piano piece, Pavane for a Dead Princess. Ravel played the Pavane for the first time in 1899, and overnight it launched his reputation. The piece became extremely popular, and the composer orchestrated it in 1910.

The wording of Ravel’s title was regrettable, and he frequently had to explain that the piece is not a cortège for a recently deceased princess. The real sense of it is actually “a princess out of the past.” Characteristic of Ravel, he grew hypercritical of the piece. In 1912, having to review a concert on which the Pavane had been programmed, he wrote:

I no longer see its good points from such a distance. But, alas, I perceive its faults very clearly: the glaring influence of Chabrier and the rather poverty-stricken form! The remarkable interpretation of this incomplete and unoriginal work contributed, I think, to its success.

We may disagree.


November 15
19:00 - 20:30