In the clarinet solo by Denis Pousseur, which accompanies the solo Murmurs, the composer explores the instrument’s different textures and sonorities through a sequence in which the sound travels from the deepest to the highest tones. These sounds arise from a deep and restrained breath, as if it were the breath a recovered recollection would give to memory.
In Winnboro Cotton Mill Blues, composed by Frederic Rzewski, the violent succession of chords exchanged between the two pianos, modulating and transforming, exploding and propagating in an evolutionary way, takes shape in a series of oscillatory movements, which forms the heart of the choreography.
In Strumentale, Stefano Scodanibbio’s striking composition, the simplicity and smallness of gestures are inversely proportional to the amplitude and power of sound. The constant repetition of a single gesture serves to interpret the composition: only one of the four strings of the double bass is put into play, a repeatedly played note forms the basic rhythm of the piece. Through various manipulations, sliding, friction, twisting of the bow on the string, harmonics are added to this original note, and give rise to a "melody" which seems to be the consequence of no action, but to have simply arisen from the body of the instrument, in a diffuse way.
The repetition of violent chords in Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues and the constant repetition of a single note in Strumentale create a rhythmic relationship between the two pieces, a formal bridge.
Salvatore Sciarrino’s Sei quartetti brevi are a succession of short compositions for string quartet in which the composer explores the possible textures and colours of sound. The wide range of sensations and feelings that this composition evokes serves as a material for choreography. Music tends to reverse the terms of absence and presence, moving them to a less material and more impalpable territory. What one feels is not perceived as such: there remains only a blind and enigmatic movement of acceleration and deceleration, periodic pulsations, a climate of anguish.
This time, and more abstractly, a bridge is built between the disturbing universe of Strumentale and the indefinite anguish of the Sei quartetti brevi. At the same time a relationship is established between the ambiguity and paroxysm of the sounds of Sciarrino's composition, blending with the sounds of wind instruments and the initial and retained breath of Pousseur's composition. We thus cross these bridges established by the form to those established by the emotional content.
The various choreographed works were designed to be presented either together, as a complete program, or separately.
NOTES ON THE RELATIONSHIP TO MUSIC
Musical analysis has been central to me from the beginning of my creative work, and played a fundamental role in some of the different pieces I created.
My approach involves a close and rigorous study of the musical scores and their composers’ intentions, since these will play a very specific and decisive role in designing the choreography.
Patios (1992), my first solo work, began with an analysis of four of Claude Debussy's twelve Études for piano (chromatic degrees, repeated notes, opposing sonorities and chords). The choreographic work of gestural research and composition revolved around musical analysis and the structuring of these studies.
In my second solo, I believe that if I act… (1993), I focused again on compositions for keyboards, but this time moving from the piano forte to the harpsichord. The Fantasia para piano forte and the Allegro assai from Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach’s Sonata per il cembalo solo were followed by Thierry De Mey’s Undo for harpsichord. The performance, based on three of Zeno of Elea’s four paradoxes, played with the paroxysm of the compositions: in the case of CPE Bach on the one hand, exploring the peculiarity of his conception of composition for his era, and the intrinsic paradox of Thierry De Mey’s work on the other hand. Undo, designed for a polyphonic instrument, is a monody in which the composer tries to recreate polyphony using sets of oscillations that tend towards harmony. This piece was the first in which I juxtaposed classical and contemporary music.
In my third solo, Díscola: La Ventana (1994), a site specific piece created for Park Güell in Barcelona, I started from the element and the idea of a window (interior space–exterior space). I used one of the songs from Orlando Gibbons’s piece The Cries of London and the opening song of Luciano Berio’s work of the same title, based on Gibbons’s piece. The original The Cries of London reproduced the sounds of people working in the market and walking the street, whose voices Gibbons heard through the window of his home.
For the piece A destiempo (1995), my first group work, we relied on our memories, collected in the form of a notebook, to investigate a first memory, its loss, our gaze. At the same time as I began to reflect on this subject, and my intentions were emerging, I was listening to Denis Pousseur’s trio for violin, clarinet, and piano, Le Silence du Futur, which had premiered at the Theatre la Balsamine in Brussels. I was seduced by its construction: three parts in which each instrument in turn plays a "dominant role". The various tones referred to a cultural heritage inscribed in the memory of these instruments. The elements of the composition revolved around the ideas of loss, mutation, and rebirth inherent in the choreographic subject.
Then in 1996 I was contacted by Patricia Hontoir (Musica Libera), who was looking to coordinate a collaboration between a choreographer and contemporary composers and musicians. Anxious to allow a kind of rapprochement not possible using the means of production to which I had access, she suggest that I choose and choreograph one of the pieces from the Albireo Ensemble’s repertoire. I picked Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues by Frederic Rzewski. Musica Libera gave me the opportunity to work directly with the composer and musicians, and gave us access to a previously unrecorded composition.