Études impressionnistes (piano)

(Three Impressionist Studies)



10 mn

• Publisher : Gérard Billaudot.

1. Intermezzo, hommage à C. Debussy (2 mn 50 s)

• World premiere: 4/02/2012, during the Debussy poète de la modernité festival, amphithéâtre du musée de la Musique (Cité de la Musique), Paris – Hugues Leclère. 
• Commissioned by Nancyphonies, with the support of Fondation Francis et Mica Salabert.

2*. (2 mn)

• World premiere: 28/03/2011, Théâtre de l’Athénée, Paris – Claire-Marie Le Guay.
• Commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Bouquot, Mrs. Fleish, Mr. and Mrs. de Gastines, Mr. and Mrs. Oudet, Mr. and Mrs. Rouche.

3. Hommage à H. Dutilleux (4 mn 20 s)

• World premiere: 24/06/2010, Notre-Dame Church, Auvers-sur-Oise – Claire-Marie Le Guay.
• Commissioned by Auvers-sur-Oise Festival.

*Work without title

After the cycle of Études baroques, written shortly before, these three pieces are as much compositional etudes as pieces intended for working on a particular aspect of piano technique.

The first Étude, Intermezzo, is a distant echo of two preludes by Claude Debussy, Bruyères and Général Lavine, from which it borrows a few thematic motifs and combines them. Using the piano's third pedal, which allows for freeing the hands while certain sounds or chords remain held, one witnesses a polyphony of textures that are often intertwined in an organic flow made up of waves, undertows, and fleeting apparitions. At times, snatches of the Debussyst universe burst in, without ever being veritable quotations.

The second Étude is closer to an agitated litany of remotely Gregorian contours. A sinuous, repetitive melody with a shifting rhythmic pattern is thwarted by waves of chords in octaves linked to the left hand. These two contrasting elements generate a polyrhythm throughout a regular, feverish crescendo leading to an abrupt coda.

The third Étude, written in homage to Dutilleux, has its source in a few sonorities of which he was fond. This is attested to by the group of chords punctuated with bell sounds, which opens the piece. Everything that follows in the etude is the metamorphosis of motifs, play of harmonic colours responding to various places on the keyboard, multiple echoes… But it is a feeling of luminosity that fills the whole piece, up to the sonorous, colourful ending that could be drawn by the verses of Saint-John Perse: 'Doors open on the sands, doors open on exile, the keys with the lighthouse keepers, and the star beaten out on the stone of the threshold…'


Thierry Escaich
Translated by John Tyler Tuttle