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marc-andre dalbavie 1951

concerto pour violon 1996


color 2001
ciaccona 2002
eiichi ChijiiWa VIOLON I VIOLIN
orchestre de paris
christoph eschenbach
marc-andre dalbavie, christoph eschenbach
marc-andre dalbavie 1951
Gerard Billaudot Editeur SA
color 2001
Commande de I'Orchestre de Paris
Creation au Carnegie Hall de New York, le 30 janvier 2002,
par t'Orchestre de Paris sous ta direction de Christoph Eschenbach
t:reuvre est dediee a Christoph Eschenbach
Commissioned by the Orchestre de Paris
Premiered at Carnegie Hall, New York, on 30 January 2002, by the Orchestre de Paris
conducted by Christoph Eschenbach
The work is dedicated to Christoph Eschenbach
concerto pour violon et orchestre I for violin and orchestra 1996
Creation a Oonaueschingen, le 18 octobre 1996, par Eiichi Chijiiwa
et I'Orchestre national de France sous Ia direction de Lothar Zagrosek
L:reuvre est dediee a Luciano Serio
Premiered in Donaueschingen on 18 October 1996, by Eiichi Chijiiwa
and the Orchestre National de France conducted by Lothar Zagrosek
The work is dedicated to Luciano Berio
ciaccona 2002
Creation a Hambourg, te 7 fevrier 2003, par t'Orchestre de Ia NOR
sous Ia direction de Christoph Eschenbach
l'reuvre est dediee ilia compositrice finlandaise Kaija Saariaho
Premiered in Hamburg on 7 February 2003, by the NDROrchester
conducted by Christoph Eschenbach
The work is dedicated to the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho
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espace, ligne, couleur
Parmi les compositeurs de sa generation, Marc-Andre
Dalbavie est sans doute celui qui a le plus importe a
Ia musique des questions qui ont d'abord vu le jour
dans le domaine des arts plastiques. A l'instar des
Wall Drawings de Sol LeWitt, des travaux in situ de
Daniel Buren ou des anamorphoses spatiales de Felice
Varini qui , en excedant le cadre du tableau, ont repense
le rapport de l'reuvre a son lieu d'accueil , le compo-
siteur s'attache a repenser Ia relation de Ia musique
a son lieu d'execution. Aussi certaines de ses reuvres
ne limitent-elles pas l'espace musical a Ia scene mais
l'etendent a Ia salle entiere, afin que l'auditeur ne fo-
calise pas son attention sur Ia seule portion de lieu in-
stituee par le concert traditionnel. La defocalisation
ainsi obtenue remet done en cause Ia hierarchie
spatiale qu'entraine toute presentation frontale de Ia
musique. Mais Marc-Andre Dalbavie est aussi le com-
positeur de sa generation qui a le plus explicitement
procede a !'extension de Ia "musique spectrale", que
Gerard Grisey et Tristan Murail ont initiee au milieu des
annees 1970. Trois principes sont a Ia base de ce
courant musical : une redefinition du materiau
sonore, due aux decouvertes recentes de l'acoustique,
une conception de Ia forme, fondee sur des techniques
de transformation continue ou de "morphing", Ia prise
en compte, enfin, de Ia perception pour que Ia musique
soil de nouveau accessible a tout auditeur.
La conjonction de ces deux approches a donne !'idee
a Marc-Andre Dalbavie d'appliquer a l'espace le
principe spectral des transformations continues et, du
coup, a concevoir Ia spalialisation de dyna
mique. Aussi , lorsque le compositeur spatialise un
objet sonore- qu'il s'agisse d'un accord, d'un motif ou
d'un rythme -, !'objet sonore mis en mouvement evo-
/ue : autrement dit, le mouvement simule par l'ecriture
transforme eel objet, alors que les reuvres de mu-
sique spatiale donnaient, jusque-la, seulement !'i m-
pression d'un meme objet se dans l'espace.
Commencee avec Seuils, qui confronte une soprano et
un ensemble instrumental, places sur scene, a des
sons electroniques diffuses par haut-parleurs dans
tout l'espace de Ia salle, cette demarche, a Ia fois
issue des arts plastiques et de Ia pensee spectrale,
s'est poursuivie avec six pieces instrumentales
spatialisees, composees entre 1996 et 2001 . La
premiere d'entre elles est le Concerto pour violon et
orchestre, ecrit en 1996. En focalisant !'attention de
l'auditeur sur le soliste, ce genre musical exacerbe Ia
frontalite du concert traditionnel. En se referant a ce
genre, cette reuvre spatialisee se refere done a !'aspect
le plus emblematique de !'institution du concert. Aussi
ce concerto spatialise ne peut qu'entrer en conflit
avec ce genre lie a Ia frontalite. En fait , Ia scene
accueille, en plus du soliste place au premier plan,
seulement !'ensemble a COrdes, entoure, a gauche, par
un groupe de cuivres et un percussionniste, a droite,
par un second groupe de cuivres et un piano. Dans Ia
salle, un quatuor a cordes, un deuxieme piano, un
sextuor de bois, un quatuor de cors, un trio a cordes,
une harpe et un autre sextuor de bois sont reparti s
autour du public. Le soli ste dialogue done dans
l'espace avec douze groupes distincts qui se repon-
dent eux-memes les uns aux autres. Mais il se
dedouble surtout progressivement au profit d'autres
violons places dans Ia salle. La focalisation frontale du
concerto etant done peu a peu abandonnee, Ia
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A son importante discographie de p1aniste, s'aJoutent de nombreux enreg1strements en tant que chef
d'orchestre, notamment a Ia tete de I'Orchestre Symphonique de Houston (Ovorak, Tchar1<ovski) , de I'Orchestre
de Ia NOR Hambourg (Mahler. Brahms) et de I'Orchestre de Paris (Serio, Berlioz, Bruckner. Dalbavie, Dusapin,
Ravel ... ).
Christoph Eschenbach a ete nomme Chevalier dans I'Ordre de Ia Legion d'Honneur en janvier 2003.
orchestre de paris I christoph eschenbach directeur musical
Cree en t 967, 1'0rchestre de Paris succeda a l'illustre Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire (1828-1967) qui
lit decouvrir au public f r a n ~ a i s tes reuvres de compositeurs tels que Beethoven, Berlioz, Mendelssohn,
Schubert, Weber ... Les plus grands chefs d'orchestre se sonl succedes a sa tete : Charles Munch, Herbert
von Karajan, Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim, Semyon Bychkov et depuis septembre 2000, Christoph
Eschenbach.
Developpant un repertoire qui joint le symphonique a I' opera et qui embrasse toutes les traditions. I'Orchestre
de Paris fait une place importante a Ia musique contemporaine. II commande reguli fl rement des reuvres
nouvelles a des composi teurs et donne de nombreuses creations en France (Luciano Serio, Pi erre Boulez,
Marc-Andre Dalbavie, Henri Dutilleux, Olivier Messiaen, Witold Lutoslawski ... ).
De 2000 a 2003, it a commemore, au fit des saisons, le bicentenaire de Ia naissance d'Hector Berlioz
(1 1 decembre 1803).
L'Orchestre donne une centaine de concerts par an doni un tiers ill 'etranger et vient d'eftectuer une tournee
triomphale en Chine, dans le cadre des annees croisees France-Chine.
La discographie de I'Orchestre, deja d'une belle ampleur, connait aujourd'hui un nouvel essor. Ses recentes
paruti ons presentent des reuvres de Serio, Berlioz, Bruckner, Dusapin, Ravel.
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space, line, color
Of aU the composers of hi s generation, Marc-Andre
Dalbavie is probably the one who has been most ac-
tive in importing into the realm of music issues that
first arose in lhe domain of the visual arts. As with the
Wall Drawings of Sol LeWitt, the works in situ of Daniel
Buren or the spatial anamorphoses by Felice Varini ,
artists who by going beyond the picture frame have
rethought the connection between the work of art and
the environment that houses it, this composer is pre-
occupied with rethinking the relationship between
music and its place of performance. Hence some of his
works do not limit their musical space to the concert
platform, but extend it to the entire haU, so that the lis-
tener does not focus his attention only on the area
haUowed by concert-giving tradition. The defocalisa-
tion thus achieved caUs into question the spatial hier-
archy resulting from any frontal presentation of music.
But Marc-Andre Dalbavie is also the composer of his
generation who has most explicitly set about extend-
ing the 'spectral music' that Gerard Grisey and Tristan
Murail introduced in the mid-1970s. Three principles
form the basis of this compositional movement: a re-
definition of sound material , due to recent discoveries
in acoustics; a conception of form founded on tech-
niques of continuous transformation or 'morphing';
and, finaUy, the attention paid to perception so that
music can once more become accessible to every
listener.
The combination of these two approaches gave Marc-
Andre Dalbavie the idea of applying the spectral
principle of continuous transformation to space, and
thus of conceiving spatialisation in a dynamic way.
This means that when the composer spatialises a
sound object - whether it is a chord, a motif, or a
rhythm - , the sound object that is set in motion
evolves: or to put it another way, the motion simu-
lated by the compositional process transforms the
object, whereas previousl y works of spatial music
merely gave an impression of the same object moving
unchanged through space. This procedure, derived
from both the vi sual arts and spectral theory, was
initiated with Seui/s, which sets a soprano and an
instrumental ensemble, positioned on the platform,
against electronic sounds diffused by loudspeakers
placed throughout the haU space, and continued wi th
six spatiali sed instrumental pieces composed between
1996 and 2001 . The earliest of these is the Concerto
for violin and orchestra, written in 1996. By focusing
the listener's attention on the soloist, this musical
genre exacerbates the frontality of the standard
concert. Hence, in referring to the concerto genre, this
spatialised work refers to the most emblemati c aspect
of the concert as institution. It follows that the
spatialised concerto must inevitably come into conflict
with this genre associated with frontality. In fact , the
platform contains, in addition to the soloist placed at
the front of the stage, only the string ensemble,
surrounded, to the left, by a group of brass instru-
ments and a percussionist , and to the right by a
second group of brass and a piano. In the haU, a string
quartet, a second piano, a woodwind sextet, a quartet
of horns, a string trio, a harp and another woodwind
sextet are dispersed around the audience. The soloist
thus dialogues in space with twelve distinct groups
which themselves respond to one another. But, above
aU, his role is also progressively split among other
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violins positioned in the hall. Hence, as the frontal
focus of the concerto is gradually abandoned, the
traditional concertante function of the genre can only
be dissolved.
The acoustic image of this spatialised concerto is of
course modified when the recording is played on a
stereophonic system. While righVIeft movements can
be recreated, fronVback movement is replaced by a
sensation of sound advancing or receding. On the
other hand, the gradual dissolution of the concertante
function can still be fully perceived. This process of
dilution still respects the three movements of the
traditional concerto, though these here follow on from
one another without a break. If, in the first, the music
is chiefly focused on the soloist, in the second the
orchestra multiplies effects of resonance intended to
compete with him, while in the third the violin loses its
soloistic function. The work thus presents itself initially
as a traditional concerto. At the beginning, the soloist
even seems to be an autonomous protagonist, with the
virtuosity of the concert artist as a point of reference,
but this autonomy is gradually challenged by the
mechanism within which it operates, to such an extent
that it is finally overthrown. As to the relationship
between soloist and orchestra, the composer sought
to multiply the possible combinations, incorporating
both those attested by tradition and those offered by
the acoustical redefinition of sonority. In this way, the
violin line can either become detached from the
orchestral flow or merge with it in an overall timbre.
The musical objects of this work (the solo part, the
form of the concerto, the soloist's relationship with
the orchestra, and so on), though at first seemingly
autonomous, are in fact an integral part of a general
process of continuous transformation (the gradual
dissolution of the concertante genre) which little by
little is revealed as governing them. Hence the com-
poser succeeds in making some of the musical objects
he uses coincide with known referents, but he does so
only, when all is said and done, in order to make them
'fail' as such. All Marc-Andre Oalbavie's music plays
again and again on this 'the principle of coincidences'.
For instance, because it is dedicated to Luciano Berio,
the Violin Concerto incorporates excerpts from Sinfonia
and Formazioni, but these quotations constitute, in
reality, the outcome or the point of departure of
orchestral procedures borrowed from electronic music,
and simulating virtual reverberations or echo effects.
If, in this concerto, the soloist gradually ceases to
be the element on which the listener's attention is
focused, the references integrated in such a context
end up, in a parallel development, being heard in a
quite different way.
Color, which dates from 2001 , returns to a conven-
tional layout in which the instrumentalists, placed on
the platform, once again face the audience. Whereas,
in this work, the composer does not pursue his explo-
ration of sonic spatialisation, he amplifies here 'the
principle of coincidences' established since the Violin
Concerto. The work's title comes from a term used in
medieval music to designate a variety of procedures
of melody creation. Colors project is therefore to rein-
tegrate the melodic factor, which spectral music in its
first period, chiefly centred on the exploration of tim-
bre, had been obliged to renounce, just as, in painting,
the colourists tended to forego line. Hence the
processes of continuous transformation that
govern the music of Marc-Andre Oalbavie here 'coin-
cide' from time to time with the melodic factor, con-
sidered as an additional referent to be integrated.
That said, however, the term 'color' is not to be
understood in its strict medieval sense; rather, it indi-
cates that the melodic process initiated here, because
it stands at the opposite pole from the hierarchical
model of accompanied melody, is closer to the
techniques of, say, plainchant melody than it is to
Mozartian melody. In fact , the composer makes these
new melodies emerge from the harmonica-spectral
universe of timbral music.
Moreover, seeking to vary as much as possible the
melodic objects thus created, Dalbavie did not limit
himself to the classic techniques of spectral music
(compression, dilatation), which led him also to rein-
tegrate quasi-tonal sound phenomena. Color is thus
the first piece by its composer that openly espouses
the concept of 'metatonality'. When this notion was
theorised in the 1970s by the composer Claude Ball if,
it corresponded to the search for an extension of tonal
functions with a view to creating a continuum
between atonality and tonality. However, placed in the
context of spectral theory, it refers more to the preoc-
cupation wi th integrating atonality and tonality within
the framework of phenomena of acoustical resonance.
This reintegration of objects associated with tonality
(chords, series of chords, harmonic groupings) into a
broader system of sonority enables the composer to
avoid falling into a neo-tonal aesthetic. The very
beginning of Color is remarkable in this respect. The
work opens with a tone-cluster, from the resonance of
which there emerges a chord of D minor. Perceived at
once as an archetypal chord and as a spectral timbre,
it is therefore an ambiguous object, and this ambigu-
ity will be maintained all through the piece.
From a formal point of view, Color moves from a
melodic entanglement to timbral music made up of
non-tempered chords, or, to put it another way, from
line to colour, in accordance with the title's double
meaning.
This melodic exploration is pursued with Ciaccona,
composed in 2002, which this time takes as its point
of reference the form of the chaconne. Rrst appearing
in Spain in the sixteenth century, the chaconne is an
old dance in triple time which spread all over Europe
in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The form,
which closely resembles the passacaglia, is charac-
terised by the repetition of a single motif subjected to
multiple variations. Ciaccona is therefore founded on
a sound object of a thematic nature, incessantly
repeated. All the musical events in the piece derive
from this motif, which is heard after the manner of a
cantus firm us. But the motif is itself subjected to trans-
formations which, though preserving its outline, affect
its rhythm and pitches. And since these transforma-
tions are performed with the aid of the classic
techniques of spectral music (di latation, compression,
and so on), the principle of variation, characteristic of
the chaconne, is not limited to melody and rhythm, but
applies also to all the other parameters.
Confirming a tendency already apparent in Color, the
work also reclaims a certain sonic power that is
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typically symphonic. In the twentieth century, in the
wake of (most influentially) Debussy, Ravel and early
Stravinsky, the orchestra was exploited first and fore-
most for its colour and its timbral effects, with the
result that the different families of orchestral instru-
ments (strings, woodwind, brass, and percussion) were
used in blends. In thus blurring the basic structure of
the orchestra (which was still respected by, say,
Sibelius) , modern orchestration, while succeeding in
mastering timbre, has at the same time foregone the
sensation of space and the clarity of line that sym-
phonic style had to offer. By giving renewed attention
to these aspects, which result from oppositions
between the instrumental groups, division of them
into blocks, and the play of dynamic contrasts, the
composer achieves the feat of reconciling the two
opposing tendencies of orchestral style.
From a formal point of view, Ciaccona consists of a
slow evolution, beginning with timbral music, within
whose context the theme is stated, and ending with
purely melodic music. In order to accomplish this grad-
ual metamorphosis, the work goes through the
following stages: timbre, harmony, play on resonance,
echoes, canons, and finally melody.
With its references both to an ancient form and to the
sound of the symphony orchestra, Ciaccona, more
even than Color, develops 'the principle of
coincidences'. However, this work stands out in
the composer's production for its absence of any
spectacular effect, indeed for a certain denial of
discourse. Its incessant recurrences actually prevent
the musical discourse from achieving true consis-
tence, rather as, in the fictions of Maurice Blanchot, the
phrase constantly thwarts the emergence of the
narrative. In short, if the defocalisation brought about
by the Violin Concerto resulted from the si ngular
nature of its spatial layout, the same effect is achieved
here through the very style of the work.
Bibliography
On spectral music:
Guy LELONG
Translation: Charles JOHNSTON
Tristan Murail, symposium (l'Harmattannrcam-Centre
Pompidou, Compositeurs d'aujourd'hui . 2002)
Hugues Dufourt, 'Musique speclrale', Musique. pouvoir.
ecriture (Bourgois, 1991)
Jerome Baillet, Gerard Grisey, Fondements d'une ecriture,
(L'Itineraire/l:Harmattan, 2000)
'Grisey/Murail ' (Entretemps, no.B, 1969)
On Marc-Andre Dalbavie:
Marc-Andre Dalbavie, Le son en tout sens,
Conversations with Guy Lelong, editions Billaudot, 2005
Marc-Andre Dalbavie, symposium, (Cahiers de l'lrcam,
Compositeurs d'aujourd'hui no.2, 1993)
Marc-Andre Dalbavie, 'Pour sortir de l'avant-garde',
Le timbre: metaphore pour Ia composition
(lrcam/Bourgois. 1991)
On the notion of art in sitll
Guy Lelong, Daniel Buren (Flam marion,
La creation conlemporaine, 2001)
marc-andre dalbavie
Marc-Andre Dalbav1e was born in 1961. Atter studying at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique
de Paris (1960-66), where he won several premiers prix, he spent five years in the department of musical
research at IRCAM, and also studied conducting with Pierre Boutez from 1967 to 1966. Now Professor of
orchestration at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris, he was composer in residence with
the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orcheslra from 1996 10 2000, and held lhe same
posi ti on with the Orcheslre de Paris from Oclober 2000 to June 2004.
In 1997 he received the Prize of the Salzburg Easter Festival , awarded by the Berlin Phi lharmonic Orchestra,
for Tactus. and the UNESCO Prize for his Violin Concerto. In 1996 he was named 'Best Young Composer' by
the newspaper USA Today for his different activities wi th the great Arrerican orchestras.
As early as 1962, along with a number of other composers of his generation, he became interested in the
potential of spectral music, notably in the scope offered by the redefinition of timbre and the notion of process.
He has enriched these techniques wi th the help of polyphonic and rhythmic procedures, complemented by
principles of recurrence, while integrating phenomena of heterogeneity thanks to electronics, and exploiting
the applicati ons of computer-assisted music and acoustics.
If the 1960s, for him, was the decade of timbre and colour (in such works as Miroirs Transparents and
DiademeS}, the 1990s were the years of space, place and context. Seuils marks the beginning of this period,
since the electronic equipment is laid out around the audience. and the poeti c text which is employed refers
to the space in which it intervenes. This work also marks the start of a collaboration with the writer Guy Lelong,
which continued with two further concert works (Non-lieu and MobileS} and the musical performance piece
C!Jrrespondances, devised wi th the visual artist and director Patrice Hamel. The use of Baroque instruments
links the Concertina to a seventeenth-century piece (a Curtain Tune by Matthew Locke). Dffertoire, for male
chorus and symphony orchestra, suggests virtual spaces simul ated by the choral writing.ln Non-lieu, the concert
platlorrn is completely empty and the four female choruses and instrumental ensemble are deployed in the
hall around the audience. The Dream of Unified Space, written for the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra,
Antiphonie, a double concerto for clarinet and basset-horn written for the Rhineland-Pfalz State Orchestra, and
Concertate if suono, for the Cleveland Orchestra, further develop this exploration of the movement of sound
in space. Fi nally, Mobiles for chorus and orchestra. specifically conceived for the concert hall of the Cite
de Ia Musique in Paris, begins with simulated audience conversations mingling wi th the sound of the orchestra
tuning up.
His residence with the Orchestre de Paris has led him to reclaim the symphony orchestra in his work. This
approach, which he shares with other composers of his generation, aims to open up new perspecti ves on
symphonic style in order to build up a repertoire that will give the orchestra a fully contemporary resonance.
Color and Ciaccona are both part of this artistic project, as is, more recently, Rocks under the Water, written
to be played by the Cleveland Orchestra for a building by the architect Frank 0. Gehry.
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