39 mn

• Text : after Cris, novel by Laurent Gaudé.

• World premiere: 17/06/2016, Théâtre, Verdun (France), as part of the centenary celebrations of the Battle of Verdun – Pierre Val (narrator), Les Cris de Paris (chamber choir), Trio KDM (Anthony Millet, accordion – Jean-Baptiste Bonnard & Adélaïde Ferrière, percussions), Nomos (cello ensemble), Geoffroy Jourdain (cond.).

• American premiere: 10/11/2018, Church of St. Luke-in-the-Fields, New York City – Philip Stoddard (narrator), Cantori New York, Mark Shapiro (cond.), Hanzhi Wang (accordion) –  translated by Mark Shapiro..

• Scoring: narrator, chamber choir, 8 cellos, 2 percussions, accordion.

• Publisher: Gérard Billaudot.

Verdun cris creation mondiale juin 2016

[ programme notes of the World premiere]


Commemorating a battle is not necessarily easy to do musically, but the poetic richness and diversity of these soldiers' words, reinvented by Laurent Gaudé, are a fantastic asset for tackling a subject like this.

Relying on the variety of the work's poetic atmospheres, ranging from fright to gallows humour or even dream, my aim was to recreate an itinerary through this text, invent a musical form that would link these different atmospheres in a dialogue, even an intertwining, between spoken voice and sung voice. I therefore proposed a narrator to carry on a dialogue with a chamber chorus, blending the original text and its more symbolic transformations.

The orchestral basis is an ensemble made up of two percussionists and an accordion, an ensemble allowing for establishing the rhythmic or harmonic base of this structure as well as the creation of combinations of sounds appropriate to transcribing the tragic aspect of the subject along with its more dreamlike, sometimes timeless, side. The presence of a group of cellos responding to the narrator, and the possibility of a dark lyricism likely to ensue from them, imposed itself on me as the reading progressed.”


Thierry Escaich
Translated by John Tyler Tuttle