BCMG’s January concert, that I am conducting and have programmed in conjunction Stephen Newbould, has six pieces by four French composers and one Swedish composer. Rapidità by Ivo Nilsson and Étude en Alternance N°3 – Filer by Frédéric Durieux are world premieres. Doppler Wobbler by Nilsson and Mosaïque Céleste by Allain Gaussin will both be performed for the first time in the United Kingdom.
The concert will start with Rapidità, a short piece that is the first of a series of six pieces which will be completed for the same instrumentation. This cycle of six pieces is based on Italo Cavino’s “Six Memos for the Millennium”. Ivo Nilson studied composition in Paris with Allain Gaussin.
Marc-André Dalbavie’s piece Palimpseste was co-commissioned by BCMG and written for a small ensemble. Marc-André Dalbavie uses “spectral writing” and gives much attention to the ‘spatialization’ of the music. Here, the flute and the clarinet change their position in space while playing, which enhances the concept very clearly. Although there is always a connection in the metric between the different speeds, the music abruptly falls from fast to slow.
Jetz Genau! by Pascal Dusapin is the result of a work in progress. Genau was presented and then extended to complete the definitive and actual version. Nicolas Hodges was the soloist for the premiere of Jetz Genau! in October 2012. This energetic piece in which every musician is treated as a soloist can best be described as a Concertino with Interludes for the piano solo.
Pascal Dusapin has inherited from his elder fellow composer Pierre Boulez to be the most acclaimed French composer abroad. Having studied with Iannis Xenakis, he was at the beginning of his carrier, very much influenced by Edgard Varèse. Pascal Dusapin is one of the most idiosyncratic personalities of his generation.
Frédéric Durieux’s Étude en Alternance N°3 – Filer is presented as a World Premiere. It is a short piece that belongs to a yet uncompleted cycle. The Étude has a very fast tempo. The speed is very important for the piece. It needs to be played fast in order to make sense. Durieux creates a phantasmagoric and ghostly atmosphere where breath and sound almost merge at the beginning of the piece. We recognize the homage to Olivier Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotiques. Messiaen was Durieux’s predecessor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, where he teaches composition.
Ivo Nilsson’s Doppler Wobbler has four movements played ‘Attaca’ (without interruption). It is a Concertante for viola and bassoon – a rather unusual combination – and ensemble. The composer says about his piece:
When composing this Double concerto, I imagined the two soloists being planets rotating at different speed around a star (the ensemble). And when looking for information about how planets orbit, I found out that there is a method called Doppler wobbler that is used to find planets in other solar systems.
Nilsson uses the natural harmonics of the instruments. With this technic, he reinforces the gravitational feeling, or shall we say, the attraction that each instrument produces on the others. The virtuosity, the velocity and the harmonic system create a variation of light. A sensation that can be assimilated with watching the stars.
The last piece of the program is Allain Gaussin’s Mosaïque Céleste. Despite Gaussin’s use of keyboards, this Chamber Concerto reminds me of Ligeti’s Chamber Concerto. The sound world obtained by the juxtaposition of quarter-tones harmonies with a more tonal system is magnificent. The instrumentation of strings and wind instruments only creates no effects based on attacks and resonance.
There are 7 movements:
1. The neutron star
3. Phantom mass
4. Striation of time
5. The blue star
6. Black hole
7. Fresco – Stained glass mosaic
The composer’s concept is to write music as a mosaic, by juxtaposing different colours, opposed and even rival musical elements. This mixture of scattered musical elements sometimes creates the illusion of an unrecognisable instrument.