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Glacis is the second piece in my cycle Il libro di oggetti alterati – the book of altered objects, written during my residency at the Académie de France à Rome – Villa Médicis. It can be combined with Baïnes, the first piece in the cycle, written for ensemble and silent video by artist Jennifer Douzenel.
The title of the work, in its polysemic aspect, also allows for this continuity: a glacis can indeed be a natural or functional sloping earth surface, and shares with baïnes the domain of geomorphology. But glazes are also a pictorial technique linked to oil painting: they are thin layers of transparent paint that give iridescence and depth to the canvas.
It is this second definition that inspires the written work, and more specifically the work of a painter from northern France, Christian Weppes aka “Chris”, to whom the work is dedicated. He paints in successive layers of glaze, from which the material densifies to become form, an imaginary or concrete subject.
I’ve tried to transcribe this technique to the musical domain.
Glacis is constructed by superimposing diaphanous layers of sound, requiring certain instrumental specificities present in the Radio France organ – sostenuto, wind effects, etc. – and in the microtonality of the organ. – and in the accordion’s microtonality. I also try to pursue this “transposition” within the relationship between the two instruments: it’s as if the accordion were the paintbrush and the organs the unspread paint, waiting to be mixed.
The work gradually becomes denser, until the harmonic space is saturated. The discourse, which is resolutely plastic, thus proposes a voyage where a minimalist harmonic structure becomes, through the creation of combined mixtures between instruments, a complex timbral form, a little like the crystallization of pigments in Chris’s pictorial works.
|32 × 24 × 0,9 cm