Ground VI


2 clarinets

7 min

• World premiere: 18/10/2012, Cité de la musique, Paris – Paul Meyer and Michel Portal (clarinet).

• Commissioned by Fonds d’action Sacem.

• Unpublished. 

The piece is part of a cycle of six (for the time being) exploring the idea of the ground, of which Purcell and Byrd were fond, but in a way that is different each time and scored for some rather unusual instrumental combinations (Ground I: accordion and euphonium; Ground II: percussion and organ…). The present one starts from the bass characteristic of numerous early grounds – a descending chromatic line – combined with a contrapuntal motif in contrary motion. The 'fundamental' presentation of this disjunct and fairly crude thematic motif serves as a leitmotiv throughout the formal evolution. Around it are organised cycles of variations coming to impede the implacable and increasingly violent nature of the fundamental motif with phenomena of echo writing or plays of timbre between the two protagonists. At the same time, the rhythmic evolution gets the upper hand, and the initial rhythmic cycle (4 + 4 + 3) is progressively incrusted with fleeting ternary appearances attempting to impose themselves and bringing with them Baroque ornamental turns of phrase that thus run through the piece.

Thierry Escaich
Translated by John Tyler Tuttle