This masterclass immerse us in the iridescent atmosphere of the contemporary flute repertoire with its foremost exponent and the creator of many of its techniques, Pierre-Yves Artaud.
Pierre-Yves Artaud is a fascinating figure in contemporary musical creation. Equally at ease in the Classical and Romantic repertoires and the most up-to-date music, he is an approachable, radiant personality, adored by his pupils and possessing a genuine aura in concert. As a man of his time, Pierre-Yves Artaud has retained its most appreciable feature: its receptiveness to all kinds of music, notably non-European musics, which he venerates. Taking as his point of departure Debussy’s Syrinx (1913), which introduced the flute to modernism, he displays the open-mindedness indispensable for performing contemporary music. To this end he chooses a piece by the Japanese composer Yoshihisa Taira to discuss questions of breath, and with the complicity of the composer Brian Ferneyhough he guides us through the highly complex mysteries of Cassandra’s Dream Song for solo flute (1970) in an almost comical sequence.
In the 1970s and 1980s a new grammar of sound was attempting to emerge from postserialism, with languages as different as those of Messiaen, Boulez, Berio, Ligeti, Henze, and many others who were then to be heard at the Royan Festival or Donaueschingen. It was principally concerned with matters of compositional style and technique, that is to say the organisation of pitches, colours and rhythms and the notation of new modes of instrumental playing in worlds which no longer observed the conventions of tonality. Computer science was not yet really at the service of music. The IRCAM was still in its infancy practitioners of electronic music were going it alone in their studios in Milan, Cologne, and Paris. Composers sought literally unheard-of sounds in instrumental resources, considering that this was one of the only original paths that would enable them to usher new music into worlds as yet unexplored. A renewed relationship took shape between the composer and his double, the performer, and this exciting period saw the birth of stunning levels of virtuosity modernising the playing techniques of every instrument. The result was experimental works like the Sequenze of Luciano Berio, the major compositions of Brian Ferneyhough, and the more theatrical pieces of Mauricio Kagel which oblige the performers to go beyond the limits of their playing. With his flutes, Pierre-Yves Artaud was at the centre of this activity. Of all his colleagues, he was the artist who possessed the fingering and breath techniques which made it possible for the members of the transverse flute family (from bass to piccolo) to depart from their natural melodic register. Play differently, sing differently insists Pierre-Yves Artaud in front of his pupils. Discover that musical phrasing exists in the world of sound, and not only in that of melody.
ln order to expand his performing instincts, he listened to the great traditions of the Far East, were he travelled: the Japanese, the Chinese, the Korean. He discovered circular breathing, multiphonics, noise produced with the tube, extreme fingerings, the amplification of onomatopoeias and words. He meditated, he took notes, he wrote pedagogical treatises, he passed on to students in his class at the Paris Conservatoire practices which had quite simply never been considered, or else had been eradicated from the European classical flute in the name of purity of sound. In this way Pierre-Yves Artaud showed us that an innovative practice of the instrument could be based both on age-old gestures and on the most up-to-date research. A patient, charismatic pedagogue, in this film he is seen transmitting his openminded approach and his trade secrets to three pupils soon to embark on their professional careers.
Private music lessons: twelve hugely influential programmes broadcast by French television between 1987 and 1991. The guiding principle for Olivier Bernager and François Manceaux was to capture the art of the leading performers of our time, live in concert but also and above all in a teaching environment.
Treasures of the Masterclass Media Foundation
Private music lessons