Category / Instrument
fl / cl / vl / vlc / pno
Commissioned by
Madame Mania Hahnloser
Bern (Switzerland)
Ensemble Court-Circuit
Pierre-André Valade (conductor)

La Barque mystique


La Barque mystique (The Mystical Boat) takes its title from a series of pastels by Odilon Redon. Apart from anecdotal reasons linked to the circumstances surrounding the composition of this piece, the reference to this "symbolist" artist is not fortuitous. The relations between colours are both complex and obvious, since the matched colours are a priori incompatible. The rhythms of the forms include unfocused areas and hazy colours contrasting with incisive features and vividly coloured tints that find their equivalent in the structures and the music's harmonic palette.
As they found sensual delight in lacerations and delectable gloominess, painters and poets of the end of the 19th century knew how to sublimate their crises and uncertainties into eternal artistic values. That is without doubt a lesson for us: the pure transposition of the world's sorrows into the aggressiveness of material or the "complexity" of forms does not suffice to create a work of art.
In spite of its limited instrumentation, La Barque mystique is truly "orchestrated". It is a miniaturized orchestration that functions like clockwork. The instruments continually change roles and the groupings vary unceasingly. The totality contributes to the edification of global forms. The final effect, as in all clock-like movement, depends upon extreme precision in the execution of the microtonal pitches, the rhythms with their fluctuating tempi, and the timbres.

Tristan Murail
(Translation by Mary Dibbern)


1 CD Accord, AC4659012
Couleur de mer - L'attente - Treize Couleurs du soleil couchant - Attracteurs étranges - La Barque mystique
Ensemble Court-Circuit, Pierre-André Valade (conductor)