About this Recording
8.574015 - BOLLON, F.: Your Voice Out of the Lamb / Four Lessons of Darkness / Dogmatic Pleasures (Petri, Moser, Poppen, Milton, Bignamini)

Fabrice BOLLON (b. 1965)
Your Voice Out of the Lamb • Four Lessons of Darkness • Dogmatic Pleasures


Your Voice Out of the Lamb

Your Voice Out of the Lamb was written at the request of Michala Petri. I wanted to explore new possibilities using the recorder, employing the instrument as a crazy vocalist, and introducing different effects more usually used in pop music, such as delays, reverberation, loops and pitch-shifters among others. The title of the work refers to the cult album by the rock band Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. This album makes subtle references to a lot of classical music, especially Mendelssohn and Bach, without making clear citations. In this work, I incorporate influences from pop music into my musical language, with occasional pointers to motifs from the album. The overall style, however is very personal to me. The listening experience will change depending on whether or not the listener is familiar with The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

Your Voice Out of the Lamb is structured in four movements, played without interruption, starting with a little introduction which is used to create the second movement.

Written for Michala Petri, this work is one of the most virtuosic and spectacular ever written for the recorder. Using different types of recorders, from the sub-bass to a very small instrument called a garkleinflötlein, it uses different pedals to add effects as delays (a form of echo), loops (a machine which allows a phrase to repeat, while the instrumentalist continues to play) and pitch-shifters (which make it possible to play two notes together at a deflned interval).

Four Lessons of Darkness
Concerto for Electric Cello and Orchestra

I. Earth: Mäßig langsam, flexible

This flrst movement is a kind of lamento, which includes both calm yet very expressive moments alongside desperate or fractious sections. A small phrase appears in the middle of the movement, an excerpt of a song from the Middle Ages—the only moment of hope in this flrst section of the work. This excerpt is then transformed and used in the last part of the second movement and the last movement in a funk/jazz form. Earth also establishes the harmonic material that is subsequently used throughout Four Lessons of Darkness.

II. Fire: Rasend

Fire follows on from Earth without a pause. The movement is a kind of cry of desperate protest. Using pitch shifter and distortion, the electric cello is both flerce and virtuosic.

III. Water: Not too slow, calm

Water works as kind of a transition to the fourth movement Air, which follows without pause, meaning that the four movements are grouped into two large movements. Different loops are layered, giving the impression that there are many different cellos performing together. Elements of Earth, and a new chord-sound combination that subsequently opens and structures Air, appear here.

IV. Air: Temperamentvoll

This movement almost seems to not belong to the overall work, given its initial joviality. But this flrst impression is deceptive. Featuring evocations of Miles Davis and examples of his signature stylistic gestures, Air only utilises material that has already been heard in the other preceding movements. The impression of joy is just a facade, as the structure of the movement and the way in which Earth, Fire and Water are referenced turn the music sombre, reinforcing the notion that happiness is only fleeting. At the end of the work there is a cadence featuring a drum kit, and the movement ends in an explosive manner.

The references to jazz and pop in this work, and in my music more generally, should not be thought of as being ‘crossover’. Having conducted works by modern composers of all styles, I am very familiar with contemporary works, and this plays an important role in my musical language. But I refuse to think in terms of exclusivity. Boulez’s ‘Supermarket’ concept—you flnd everything in there, but nothing of quality—is, in my opinion, a very poor understanding of necessary eclecticism. An ‘ivory tower’ attitude, such as that of Mallarmé, would surely bring about the end of art, as prophesised in Hermann Hesse’s Das Glasperlenspiel. Making art more and more complex only perpetuates a cycle of art for ‘specialists’, which garners snobbery, and encourages charlatanism. It is not my purpose to make art more understandable, but it is my purpose to be understandable even in the parts that are very complex. The complexity is not the purpose of the art in itself, it is my choice to write in this way, if I decide to do so. The purpose of writing is to express, and make what is being expressed understandable and convincing. In works by Bach there is much subtle complexity, a stark contrast to obviously convoluted contemporary works. On the contrary, I am convinced that each artistic form should be a mirror of our times, and as such try to include in a fully structured and personal way the different kinds of expressions of the time.

You will flnd many influences in my music, ranging from Messiaen, Grisey, Kagel, Vasks and Schnittke through to Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Genesis and Deep Purple. This is music that I listen to and love, and it all flnds its way into my imagination. These influences meld together, and the end result is a very personal language.

Concerto for Electric Cello is the flrst work ever written for this instrument. It was written for the renowned cellist Johannes Moser, who gave the flrst performance, of which this is the recording.

The work utilises all the possibilities of the instrument, adding electronic effects such as reverb, distortion and loops, especially in the third and fourth movements. Electric cello is normally used to imitate the electric guitar in rock music. Of course, this aspect is also present in this work, as are references to jazz. But the electric cello is used as an authentic instrument with its very own sound and expression, in a very personal musical language, exploring the frontiers of the different musical styles of our time.

The title Four Lessons of Darkness came long after the composition was flnished. I flrst wanted to write a piece featuring strong psychedelic elements, such as can be found in the music of Jimi Hendrix, or hard rock of the 1970s, but translate these influences into classical music, creating a junction between two very different artistic worlds, and by doing so, discovering that these worlds are just different aspects of the same whole.

The subdivision of the work into four movements, each named after the four elements, makes reference to the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s approach to poetry, and his quasi-psychoanalytic understanding of symbolism based on these four elements. This subdivision, combined with the idea of psychedelic darkness, is also to be understood as a reaction to the destructive nature of the world at this time.

Dogmatic Pleasures

The title of this work plays with these apparent paradoxes—dogma and pleasure, short and long—and thus supplies the comic components of these pieces, albeit rather cryptically formulated. Initially I wanted to call the cycle ‘Undogmatic Pleasures’. This was because although these pieces have very clear structures and have a very clear way of playing with their material—their dogmatic aspect, so to speak—the humorous character of the music pushes the ostensible formal severity of the work to the point of absurdity … and thus to the ‘undogmatic’. But then I noticed that the notion of ‘undogmatic’ becomes inherently contradictory, because as soon as you declare yourself to be undogmatic, you have elevated your absence of dogma right back to the status of a dogma. So this was how I arrived at the title Dogmatic Pleasures.

These are short, virtuosic orchestral pieces, that are intended to be fun. They are typical short works ideal for opening a concert, but equally good standalone pieces for an encore, with the hidden theme of ‘humour and irony’. The influence of jazz and pop music is there for every listener to hear. That said, I use many stylistic elements and compositional techniques from all sorts of contemporary genres in my musical language. From these elements, taken from a variety of at times seemingly irreconcilable styles, I then create my own internally coherent musical language. I see this as my musical credo, which once again points to the humorous dogmatism of Dogmatic Pleasures: it is not the material you use that gives the music its aesthetic, but the way you use it. This means that it is not the listener that ‘makes’ the music (or the observer the work of art), but actually the ontology of the work that determines the artistic character of any given work. My longstanding working partnership with Mauricio Kagel has certainly had a major influence on me as a musician, in terms of my concept of humour within music, although Kagel’s musical style in itself has not influenced me as much.

Dogmatic Pleasures English translation: Saul Lipetz

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