Quatre Visages du temps (Concerto for Organ No. 3)


Organ & orchestra

32 min

World premiere: 18/07/2017, Ishikawa Ongakudo, Kanazawa (Japan) – Thierry Escaich (organ), Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, Michiyoshi Inoue (direction).

European premiere: 25/11/2017, Auditorium, Lyon (France) – Thierry Escaich (organ), Orchestre national de Lyon, Leonard Slatkin (cond.).

• American premiere: 06/07/2018, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City (USA) – Thierry Escaich (organ), Kansas City Summer Festival Orchestra, Matthew Shepard (cond.).

• Russian premiere: 19/10/2018, Théâtre Mariinski, Saint-Petersburg (France) – Thierry Escaich (organ), The Mariinsky Orchestra, Mischa Damev (cond.).

• German premiere: 25/01/2019, Kulturpalast, Dresde – Olivier Latry (organ), Dresdner Philharmonie, Stépohane Denève (cond.).

• Hungarian premiere: 8/02/2023, Müpa, Budapest, (Hungary) – Thierry Escaich (organ), Concerto Budapest, Gábor Káli (cond.).

• Polish premiere: 17/03/2023, NOSPR, Katowice (Poland) – Karol Mossakowski (organ), NOSPR, Lawrence Foster (cond.).

• Scoring: – – 2 percussions, strings, solo organ.

• Commissioned by Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, Auditorium-Orchestre national de Lyon and American Guild of Organists.

• Publisher: Gérard Billaudot.

The four tableaux shaping the Third Concerto for organ seem to echo four periods of the history of music. The first one, entitled “Source”, mainly develops the idea of the passacaglia with a simple and modal theme. However, unlike many of my previous works, the various elements that become embedded in the long flow of this ample form and which sometimes bring about a certain agitation, are unable to totally alter the feeling of immutability and serenity evoked by this modal cantus throughout the movement. The second tableau, “Masques”, is short, lively and fluttering, with its almost Vivaldian harmonic sequences, sometimes sinking into darker spheres in clearer bursts of rhythmic energy perpetually renewed.

This is followed by a “Romance”, a kind of song that could have come straight from a waltz of the Second Empire, but from the very start seems to be struggling with its own distorted mirror, a darker and more troubled part that ends by turning this simple and clear melody into a tormented waltz. A kind of nothingness emerges because there is no end to this movement—only a few organ bars that all the thematic material dissolves into, allowing for a final movement in an attempt to restructure itself from this emptiness. Mainly characterized by a meshing of the organ with the two percussions—playing with timbres to explore numerous atmospheres—the material of the fourth tableau, “After the Night”, reconstructs itself in a sort of rhythmic and repetitive popular dance, inevitably caught up in a brusque return to the source of the play, this cantus from the depths, that comes back to distill this feeling of eternity.

Thierry Escaich

Translated by Anne de Fornel