Programme details:


John Stead: Open Bridges (2017) - 20:17 U.K. Premiere


Interval 20 minutes


Jean-Claude Risset (1938 - 2016) : Elementa - 22:00 (1998)


Commissionned by the French Ministry of Culture for the fiftieth anniversary of musique concrète and realized at INA-GRM, Paris (1998), Elementa is deliberately electroacoustic.


Popular electronic music resorts to sampling and mixing : it thus catches up with processes initiated by musique concrète half a century earlier. I am neither connoisseur nor fond of techno, but in this work I have here and there picked up fragments of my own compositions, but mostly sound samples taken from "the very bone of nature" - simple sounds or soundscapes, or more often spectra, atmospheres, impulses, elaborated and inlaid in the musical stuff, or weaved into figures, phrases, developments and sections : a compositional work, but considerate towards the autonomy of organic objects and their dynamics of flux, duration and energy.


The piece evokes the four elements of Empedocle - which corresponds to the four states of matter : solid, liquid, gazeous, ionized (plasma). The sound material consists mostly of recordings of sound phenomena from the four elements. The origin of the sound sources is not hidden: the composition relies upon their connotations and their symbolic implications. The piece also includes sounds synthesized with the Music V program and the Synclavier digital synthesizer, which mimick gaits specific to the four states of matter : "solid" sound objects, fluid textures, eolian and noisy puffs, blows and breaths, "ionized" timbres, shrill, agile and dissociated. From the fire, the vocalizations fo Irène Jarsky and Maria Tegzes emerge as Pythia's incantations. The sounds have been processed and edited in INA-GRM studios, using the Pro Tools et GRM Tools software. The original version is 4-track.


The order of the elements is as follows:

- Aqua.. Our primal liquid medium - evoked by the water and also by the fluidity of melted materials : inharmonic textures that will be solidified into bell-like tones in the fourth section. Water drips, flows, laps, breaks - brook, torrent, river, cataract, all going down to the sea.

- Focus. Fire is ambivalent: warm and terrifying, crackling, quick, blazing, consuming and destructive. Atomized sounds, always moving.The wind sets fire in bushes. The crackling excites resonant filters at its own rhtyhm. The fire grows and seems to flood the flaming vocalizations. At the end, the fire rotates in the direction of the stars - celestial fire balls.

- Aer. The slaps of the flute are echoed by eolian puffs in reeds, overblowing into pipes, the air which both sustains and vibrates, set into motion by insect wings or nozzles. At the end, a round of the seven winds.

- Terra evokes our vital sphere, with the mineral, vegetal and animal order. The solid state of matter is illustrated through its different forms of vibration: rolling, friction, percussion, creaking, plucking, explosion ... After a long expectancy and a passacaglia of pebbles, everything is rocked: in an avalanche, even earth and stones flow.

I thank François Bayle, Daniel Teruggi and François Donato.

Jean-Claude Risset.




Francis Dhomont: Cycle du Son (1998) - 56:32 in four parts


This Cycle celebrates sound (a major discovery of the twentieth century) and music concrete. It is a fiftieth-anniversary homage to the inventiveness of Pierre Schaeffer, who created an upheaval in the world of music that has had no precedent. Drawing on the same sound material-which was in parts forged from the first movement of Schaeffer's Etude aux objets-these four pieces go through a process where they develop out of each other, question each other, echo each other, and complete each other through allusions, commentaries, metonymies, and continuations. Years after its composition, Novars, the third part of this cycle but the first to be composed, remains the section around which the entire work turns.

1- Objets retrouvés (1996) - 5:20

in memoriam Pierre Schaeffer

Both a lamento and a funeral march, this paraphrase of Pierre Schaeffer's Etude aux objets is not without connection to ornate, figured choral style. Three voices (in the contrapuntal sense of the term), developed from elements drawn from the first movement of the Etude, embroider and animate the long values of the original subjects that make up the "choral," which constitutes the fourth voice of this polyphonic composition. The choice of a classical form, so important in Bach, was a conscious one that was designed to honor the memory of Schaeffer. I like to think that he would have enjoyed the allusion.

Objets retrouvés (Refound Objects) was realized in 1996 in the composer’s studio with sound material obtained from the Syter system of Ina-GRM, and it premiered on May 31st, 1996 at the Hommage-Tombeau de Schaeffer concert as part of Synthèse, the Festival international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (France, 1996).


2- AvatArsSon (1998) - 18:11 in six connected parts: Fondation; Avatars: Voix; Aventures; Paysages; A suivre...

to "the inventors of the treasure..." Bayle, Berio, Chion, Dufour, Ferrari, Henry, Malec, Parmegiani, Reibel, Risset, Schaeffer, Stockhausen, Teruggi, Varese, Xenakis, Zanesi... and others too numerous to name...

A metaphor for, and a short cut across, some of the stages of the sound odyssey-heard for itself and for its unveiled "images" (Bayle)-and its performance. It also recalls the fertile guiding drift that allows the attentive ear to discover the furtive traces of homage.

AvatArsSon was realized in 1998 in the Syter studio of Ina-GRM and in the composer’s studio, and it premiered on May 11th, 1998 as part of Ina-GRM’s Cycle acousmatique at the Grand Auditorium of Radio-France in Paris. AvatArsSon was a special commission of the Ministre de la Culture (France) and of Ina-GRM for the fiftieth anniversary of music concrète. AvatArsSon was awarded the first prize at the 2° Concorso Internazionale di Composizione Musicale Elettronica Pierre Schaeffer (Pescara, Italy, 1999) and, in a shorter version (14:20), the second prize at Musica Nova (Prague, Czech Republic, 1998). AvatArsSon was recorded in 2001 on the disc 2°/3° Concorso Internazionale di Composizione Musicale Elettronica Pierre Schaeffer.


3- Novars (1989) - 19:06 to music concrete and Pierre Schaeffer, its "unfortunate inventor"

Without descending into simplistic symmetry, it may be possible to suggest that, even across a span of sixcenturies, a relationship exists between Vitry and Schaeffer, two theoreticians of this "new art." An ear attuned to classical music can recognize the fragments of Pierre Schaeffer's Etude aux objets and Guillaume de Machaut's Messe de Nostre Dame. In effect, these roundabout borrowings-along with a third sound element in the style of Henry-constitute all of the material that is needed to give birth to a multiplicity of variations. A sign of change is that "spectromorphological" mutations (Smalley) give the sonorities of both ars nova and the "new music" (as Schaeffer called it in 1950) the sound of our time. A sign of continuity is that something from the original works (their colors, their structure, and so on) are still present, and indestructible.

Novars was realized in Studio 123 of Ina-GRM (Paris, France) and in the composer’s studio, and it premiered on May 29th, 1989 at the 11th Cycle acousmatique du GRM in the Grand auditorium of Radio-France (Paris). Novars was commissioned by Ina-GRM. The piece was selected by the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC ’90) in Glasgow (Scotland, 1990) and the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) for the World Music Days in 1991 in Zurich (Switzerland). The jury of the Stockholm Electronic Arts Award also selected it for presentation at the awards concerts of the Stockholm Competition (Sweden, 1991). Very special thanks go to Pierre Schaeffer, who kindly allowed me to borrow some now-historic sound material; I am also grateful to Bénédict Mailliard, Yann Geslin, and Daniel Teruggi for their patience; without them it would have been impossible to carry out the work in Studio 123 and the Syter studio of Ina-GRM (Paris, France). Novars was included on the Mouvances-Méta phores 2-disc set (empreintes DIGITALes, IMED 9107/08) in 1991, and rereleased on Les dérives du signe (empreintes DIGITALes, IMED 9608) in 1996.


4- Phonurgie (1998) - 12:43

to Ines Wickmann and her found objects

Phonurgie: "making, working, and creating sound"

Phonurgie brings the sound of this legacy to a close; on the other hand, the first part, Objets retrouves, draws all of its material and its structure from it. Paraphrased elements from Novars can, of course, be found-elements that themselves paraphrase Etude aux objets, making them commentaries on commentaries-while the opening and conclusion make reference to AvatArsSon. Nevertheless, in this fourth homage, the allusions to the origins melt away before the original propositions; filiation is not renounced, but here the child, finally grown, reveals its identity. While the "sound color" may no longer be the same, morphological thought and writing still remain, in all of their many forms, true to the 'spirit' of the first "concerts de bruit" (Noise concerts).

Phonurgie was realized in 1998 in the Syter studio of Ina-GRM (Paris, France) and in the composer’s studio, and it premiered on September 25th, 1998 as part of the Inventionen ’98 festival (Berlin, Germany). The piece was commissioned by Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). Phonurgie won First Prize at CIMESP 1999 (São Paulo, Brazil) and First Prize at CibertArt 1999 (Valencia, Spain). In 1998 Phonurgie was included on the Inventionen ’98 disc (RZ 10009/10) and in 1999 on the III CIMESP 1999 disc (CD 199008708).

Cycle du son (Cycle of Sound) was premiered on November 22nd, 1998 as part of the 5th L’espace du son Festival acousmatique international in Brussels (Belgium).


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