Le Chant des ténèbres (solo sax & 12 sax)

1992

Solo soprano saxophone & 12 saxophones

13 mn

• World premiere: 6/09/1992, Teatro Rossini, Pesaro (Italy), as part of the WorldSaxophone congress – Claude Delangle (solo saxophone), saxophones of the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris, Silvia Massarelli (cond.).

• Publisher: Gérard Billaudot.

The first version of this work is the one for saxophone and soprano saxophone ensemble. Another version was subsequently orchestrated for string orchestra. It was commissioned by Claude Delangle, professor at the Conservatoire de Paris (CNSMDP), who premiered it at the World Saxophone Congress in Pesaro, Italy, in September 1992. It is of one movement, and is a combination of a passacaglia with a concertante style. Clearly structured in three parts on a theme rhythmically characteristic of a passacaglia and counterpointed from the beginning by a melodic theme winding round the Dies iræ, the piece develops several compositional processes which are also found in many later works:

• development of the melodic ornamentation (particularly noticeable in the treatment of the Dies iræ);

• building on a permanent dialogue between two at times opposing ideas which flows through the entire first part of the work;

• progressive transformation of a material (the “metamorphosis” which gives birth to the rhythmic section of the first part);

• harmonically superimposed sound spaces which take form in the slower and more expressive middle part – hence the presence of a polymodal and polyrhythmic style.

Performed since its premiere by many French and international saxophonists, this work is still one of the darkest pieces written by the composer so far.

Thierry Escaich
Translation: Eileen-Rose McFadden