Category / Instrument
Concerto for cello and chamber orchestra / / strings
Commissioned by
Orchestre des Pays de Savoie, Münchener Kammerorchester, Hong Kong Sinfonietta
Villefranche sur Saône (France), Théâtre
Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Orchestre des Pays de Savoie, Nicolas Chalvin (conductor)

De pays et d'hommes étranges


Let’s imagine the square of a little village: a story-teller sits there, speaking to a little crowd, showing pictures to illustrate his tales. He tells of distant and mysterious lands, of strange beings, of fairies or monsters, of things wonderful or frightening... The listeners react, approve, comment, ask questions, sometimes argue when the story is not to their liking...
The solo cello is here the story-teller; the orchestra listens, reacts, accompanies, asks questions, disagrees, sometimes vehemently argues with the soloist...
The title is borrowed from the first piece of Schumann’s Kinderszenen (Von fremden Ländern und Menschen = about strange lands and men). It seemed to me that it described well the different and quickly changing moods and atmospheres that my music creates - in fact, I choosed this title after having written the piece, so it is not "programmatic" music, and there are no quotations nor hints to Schumann’s music.
However, while I was writing the piece, I thought of Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Scheherazade. Though it might not be easy to guess, the initial melody played by the solo cello in my piece is - distantly - inspired by the solo violin melody of Rimsky’s piece (where the violin impersonates Scheherazade - the story-teller). And in the middle of my concerto, the wave like mouvements of the orchestra may evoque some of the beautiful moments of Rimsky’s work (the evocation of the "sea and of Sindbad's ship" - as the composer himself mentions).

Tristan Murail