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Escapes is part of a research project linking the Geneva University of Music and the NCCR Affective Sciences. Named "Gestuaire", this project aims to better understand the emotional implications of musical processes, whether it be for composers, musicians or the public.
In collaboration with researchers from the NCCR, it was decided that the work should be written for three dissociated instrumental groups: three wind instruments, three violins and three percussionists. The basic idea was to stage different types of extremely varied musical gestures and to measure their emotional implications, in a scientific sense.
My work as a composer was to incorporate this question into a purely musical project, and to integrate it into a narrative.
Escapes is a set of nine movements of different characters, with gestures and ways of handling the temporality which change from one movement to another, in which a refrain - a coldly repeated A - returns regularly. The other movements attempt, each in their own way, to escape this neutral articulation of time: an expressive and passionate cadence between violin and oboe, a reckless rush featuring marimba and clarinet, a warm contrapuntal texture shared by the violins and the winds ... Elements from the past also enrich the piece: the beginning of the Adagio in G minor by J.S. Bach and a quote from the " Tombeau pour Monsieur de Sainte Colombe le père " by Monsieur de Sainte Colombe le Fils.
Then different characters overlap: in the eighth movement each instrumental group occupies the time in its own way. The winds express a quiet chorale, the percussion weave a network of fine but dynamic rhythms, while the violins embark on a dancing rapid and almost baroque counterpoint.
At the end of the ninth movement, the cold scansion of the refrain is combined with the pathetic gestures of the quote from Sainte Colombe. It is in this last unresolved opposition that concludes Escapes.
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