Musée du Louvre: Henri Loyette, president director; Monique Devaux, artistic director for concerts.
This concert has been broadcasted on France Musique www.francemusique.fr
In the same way as Janacek, César Franck finally fashioned his personal style after the age of fifty. The triptych Prélude, Choral et Fugue was composed in 1884 when Franck was sixty-two years old and was a part, with Prélude, Aria et Final, of the 19th century masterpieces in French music. Franck used here all of his experience as an organist, as demonstrated in the piece by such aspects as the pedal points on the bass notes and the reference to the other Major triptych that is comparable in the repertoire, the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C Major BWV 564 by Johann Sebastian Bach. A symbol of the association of different traditions constantly sought after by the composer, the work combines clarity of form with sections linked through leitmotivs, a contrapuntal approach inherited from Bach and Wagnerian chromaticism while using a highly modulating language. A prelude in an improvised style is followed by a choral with long arpeggios before a grandiose final fugue.
In the same way as the Barcarolles, the thirteen Nocturnes for the piano were spread out over Fauré's artistic career and presented a sort of diary of the composer through their introverted and more serious aspects when compared to the Barcarolles. Composed in 1894, the Sixth Nocturne is undoubtedly the most popular one of the series since it offers an ideal combination between the brilliant and sometimes easy pianistic writing of the first nocturnes evoked by the lightness of the central section and a real depth of expression. The last piece by Fauré intended for the piano and composed in 1921, the dramatic Thirteenth Nocturne, opens with new perspectives through its use of very tight counterpoint inherited from Johann Sebastian Bach, harmony that freely adopts modal patterns and the passionate and tumultuous urgency of the central Allegro.
Although it complies with the formal canons of the classical sonata inherited from Joseph Haydn, the Hammerklavier sonata, through its huge dimensions, the permanent challenge it presents to the instrument and the performer, marked upon its appearance in 1819 a break with the history of the repertoire for the piano. Aware of the breakthrough he had just achieved but also of the time that would be needed for the work to be acknowledged, Beethoven stated that through this piece he had "set a hard task for pianists when they will play it in fifty years." Entirely built on the opposition between the notes of B flat and B as well as on the motifs built on descending thirds, the sonata presents a great deal of unity during all of its four movements without this thematic concentration ever wearying the listener given that each page is highly inventive. From the first chords in the initial Allegro to the imposing final fugue, an irresistible impression of grandeur and majesty dominates and is beautifully expressed in the restrained sadness of the overwhelming central Adagio.
To the exception of Klavierstücke 12 to 14, composed between 1978 and 1985 and stemming from the Major Licht cycle, the Klavierstücke are the reflection of experiments the young Stockhausen conducted in the 1950s, with works in which are combined the generalisation of series to all of the musical parameters (pitch, duration and intensity), the increased role attributed to silences, the introduction of mathematical data (the use of irrational values and of the golden number) and a greater freedom afforded to the performer. Composed in 1955 but re-worked in depth in 1961 before it was premiered the following year by Aloys Kontarsky, Klavierstücke 9 is based on two opposing motifs, a chord repeated in different intensities and a monotonous seemingly improvised chant that gradually join together during the course of the piece.
Musée du Louvre: Henri Loyette, president director; Monique Devaux, artistic director for the concerts.
Arditti String Quartet
Recital at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
Verbier Festival 2010