Ground II


Organ & percussions

7 min

• World premiere: 22/09/2007, basilique Sainte-Clotilde, Paris – Emmanuel Curt (percussions) & the participants to the International Organ Competition of the Ville de Paris.

• Publisher: Gérard Billaudot.

• CD “A las seis de la tarde” (Indésens).


Ground II is part of a series that currently consists of six works for varied forces. Reinterpreting the principle of the English 'ground' (short variations on a thorough bass) in keeping with original instrumental combinations, this series crystallises two characteristic features of Thierry Escaich's music: obsessive rehashing and the furious necessity of motion.

The ground motif does not appear here with the same ostentation as in Baroque grounds, chaconnes or passacaglias. Nonetheless, the motif remains omnipresent, hinted at, and the variations it engenders seem like so many small, closed worlds. Yet never does the listener feel hemmed in. The force of an ever-evolving rhythmic pattern propels him towards the final liberation, at the outcome of one of these ineluctable ascents of which Thierry Escaich has the secret. The work's sound magic reinforces the feeling of freedom and openness.

Since his First Organ Concerto (1995), Thierry Escaich has repeatedly created encounters between the organ and diverse instruments or vocal forces. Ground II concentrates on the unusual pairing of organ and percussion. Depending on the moment, the composer seeks merging or complementarity. The organ and vibraphone regularly blend their sonorities over the whole dynamic range: the organ's soft foundation stops merge with the mellow timbre of the vibraphone, played with soft mallets, but both instruments can also vie on the terrain of brute strength. Elsewhere, it is cymbal vibrations, vibraphone tremolos, or timpani beats that come to animate the inert sound of the organ, prolonging its large chords with their quivering. In return, the organ offers its power, breath and broad sound spectrum to the percussion.


Claire Delamarche

Translated by John Tyler Tuttle