Dedicated to Françoise Gnéri and premiered on May 3, 2013 at the Hourtin Festival, my second string quartet is entitled Urbs. This is, of course, the Latin name for the city, but it’s also, with its capital letter, “the city of all cities”, i.e. Rome. As is often the case in my music, I was influenced by something I read, in this case the book of the same name by writer Dominique Lambert. In it, the author tells the story of a dehumanized and criminalized man, plagued by neuroses and torn internally by unmentionable demons. In the image of a society that sees materialism as a religion, he is disconnected from the world in which he lives and undergoes chemical treatments that alter his perception, all the while communicating his darkest, most unbearable thoughts to his psychiatrist.
Each of the quartet’s four movements is named after a chemical substance found in the book. Thus, the first movement, X1, represents the fantasy of man, drowned in a fetal blue, spectator of his own creation in utero. The second, X4, is a theme and variation, reflecting the changes in perception sequentially created in the main character’s mind. Then, TV4 – TV6, man’s view of the media that make up his world, a mixture of materialism, pornography and the underlying quest for spiritual meaning in a near-animal marasmus of poverty. In this movement, I deliberately chose to write raw, repetitive music, reminiscent of certain scenes in the film Requiem for a Dream… in which only the contrasting pseudo chorale brings contemplation and an illusion of gentleness. The last movement, X2, is a simple prayer, an expression of suffering in the face of the desire for inner change. A glimmer of hope, it does not, however, resolve the major existential problem: being oneself in a world so far removed from our ideals.
|Dimensions||21 × 29,7 cm|