Official website of Thierry Escaich, composer and organist

 

Antiennes oubliées

1989

7 instruments

9 mn

• World premiere: 26/05/1989, Auditorium Maurice-Ravel de l’École nationale de musique de Montreuil-sous-Bois (France) – professors of the ENM de Montreuil, Daniel Chabrun (cond.).

• First prize at the André Jolivet International Competition in 1989.

• Publisher: Gérard Billaudot.

• Scoring: violin, cello, flute, saxophone in E b, trpt, trombone & percussion.

• CD « Musique de chambre » (Chamade 5638).

 

(Forgotten Antiphons)

This septet opens as if in a blanket of fog, an impression created by the entanglement of ostinato linear cells (on the flute and saxophone), drowned in the halo of the vibraphone’s harmonies. It is on this sound fabric that an extensive incantatory phrase of trumpet is portrayed, in fragments, a phrase which as it dies away allows brief surges on the cello to gradually emerge. These intense jolts progressively impose themselves in a more and more febrile atmosphere, in an increasingly high range, rising to the first climactic moment of the work.

After a brutal and uncertain regression into the initial atmosphere, a second period opens where a long melody resembling a Gregorian antiphon appears like a distant reminiscence. But from its inception a more lyrical and unstable theme on the violin is superimposed on this antiphon. These interventions by the violin take shape on a texture which deepens as it becomes more complex harmonically as well as in the combinations of timbres, interrupted, shattered several times by livelier apparitions (the marimba taking the lead) which provide a glimpse of the third part of the work. A brief climax marks the conclusion of this long progression in the form of an intense unison and more lyrical declamations of the strings, a barely implied lyricism which reflects the form of expression chosen for this work: a matter in constant fusion from which certain elements extract themselves to form phrases or other formal gestures before being re-absorbed into the original magma.

Finally, the last part of the piece, while appearing to repeat the elements which enliven the first part, is more unstable – interspersed by short and rapidly stifled surges of the cello – more rhythmic also, with the ostinato in repeated notes on the marimba, allowing the plainchant melody to reappear in a long and final decomposition of all the elements. And it is this sort of distant choir which in a long diminuendo closes this poem where everything seems implied, but which will only truly take form in the following pieces.

Thierry Escaich
Translation: Eileen-Rose McFadden