Lettres mêlées


Violin, cello & piano

20 mn

• World premiere: 27/03/2003, Cité de la Musique, Paris (France) – Trio Wanderer.

• Publisher: Gérard Billaudot.

• Commissioned by Musique nouvelle en liberté and the magazine La Lettre du musicien.

• CD “Lettres mêlées” (Accord/Universal 480 1152).






These are above all three letters in homage to three composers who are important for me: Brahms, Bach and Bartók. However, no quotation is heard in this triptych. Sometimes, only, as in the first piece, we will have the impression of recognising reminiscences of phrases with Brahmsian contours and harmonies, but they are purely imagined. On the other hand, structural elements of the writing of each of the three composers has been integrated into my own language such as, for example, this binary/ternary instability so characteristic of Brahmsian rhythm and counterpoint. We find it again throughout the first piece in the form of snatches of blackly lyrical waltzes that want to try to impose themselves in relation to more rigid and obstinate elements. Hence the impression of superimposed tempos (and sometimes even music) that result from this. As for the Bach heritage, in addition to the clear evocation of the chorale variation, it is translated in the central piece by the reappearance, in the form of superposed strata, of sorts of 'cantus' evolving at different speeds in the tradition of canonic writing of which the Kantor was so fond.

These 'mixed letters' are also the letters making up the name of each of the three composers (like the famous BACH: B flat, A, C, B natural). In it I drew the themes particular to each of the three movements, these letters providing melodic as well as harmonic, elements.

The rhythmic definition characteristic of each one (such as these groups of somewhat 'jazzy' semiquavers coming from the name of Bartók) ends up accentuating its individuality.

Finally, it is the intertwining of all these elements that determines an important part of the formal evolution of the piece, going so far as the constant knocking of these different themes (and even their integration into each other) in a fast, whirling final movement.

Thierry Escaich

(Translated by John Tyler Tuttle)