samedi 15 mars 2014

Stéphane Delplace - Hommage à Glass


by  Grégoire Hetzel
 After having begun the piano at a very young age, Delplace, alone, without guidance, without scores, continues through improvisation to discover music. 
 At the age of seventeen, he decides to dedicate himself completely to music, and while continuing with his studies of piano and organ, begins to compose. 
 The seeming pain of dissonance, the beauty of linear conflict between voices, the harmonies and disharmonies that they create never cease to fascinate him. 
 His discovery of Bach’s Fantasy in G major for organ is a definitive turning point. 
 Delplace relentlessly deepens his mastery of composition and attends the Conservatoire National de Musique de Paris, where he studies counterpoint, harmony, fugue, and orchestration.  But, as he readily admits, it is through studying the works of the composers he most admires (Bach, Brahms, Ravel...) that he shapes his musical persona.
 In the early nineteen-eighties, while harmonizing the whole tone scale in opposition to the modal debussy-esque solution, he discovers a singular tonal harmonic configuration out of which many of his works were born, such as the oratorio De Sibilla (adapted from Virgil), premiered in Saint-Germain des Prés in 1990, as well as the Prelude et Fugue VI in B flat minor. 
 Comforted by the idea that tonal language has not been exhausted of its possibilities, the composer henceforth looks for the expressive force of clear compositional language, while always being careful not to sacrifice himself to any form of progressivism. 
 The Klavierstücke for piano (1995-99, ed. Esching), the double concerto Laus Vitae (1998), the Tombeau de Ravel, for full orchestra (1997), Odi et Amo (adapted from Catulle) or the Variations dans le Ton de Sol for solo cello (1995), to cite only a few of his works, all share the quest for harmonically painful beauty and for the counterpoint that it subjugates. 
 Several obsessions haunt these works which are true examples of the author’s language:  The alteration of weak scale degrees, brought out as if Delplace, without leaving the tonal ‘solar system’, wished to explore the farthest most planets, or as if he wanted to visit the ”geography of those well known lands whose basements are still left unexploited.”
Another element interests him: Theme, the original idea, out of which everything flows naturally without divulging where it will take the composer, and that the contrapuntal and harmonic lines adopt and nourish. 
“After having found a musical idea, I have only to withdraw myself, I let the emotional and artistic material exhaust the substance of my idea, and I am under the illusion that my solution is the one that anybody would have chosen. For me, the important thing is to go further, not to invent new formulas.” 
Delplace likes to cite Cioran, whose phrases ‘tender geometry’ or ‘exercise on a metaphysical background’ as applied to Bach, suit him as well, and particularly apply to his Trente Preludes & Fugues.       
 His determination to write tonal music naturally kept him far from the official contemporary music circles. 
 It was only in 2000 that he joined the Phoenix group founded by Jean-François Zygel and Thierry Escaich. 
 The Académie des Beaux-Arts awarded him the Prix Florent Schmitt in 2001.

Hommage à Glass

(by the composer himself) 

This prelude, with its rhythmic and melodic cut naturally refers to the 1st Prelude Well-Tempered Clavier (Book I) of JS Bach. The original arpeggio here has become a joint range. Harmony then counts in each measure on a dissonant embroidery, laid down by the left hand, the direction is never predictable. 
The tonal journey there is so different from the "model", the climax occurs by the golden section (measures 20, 32), giving way to a long decrescendo then to the final peroration, which s abyss in the depths of the range, ending with we refuse reassuring major third. 
The tribute is meant dual as it is based on what could have glassien Bach, 
offering something bachien in Glass!

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