Rihm, Dufourt, Stockhausen and Matalon - The 2019 "Présences" Festival: Opening Concert

Martin Matalon, Bertrand Chamayou, Vanessa Benelli Mosell, Sébastien Vichard, Adélaïde Ferrière, Florent Jodelet, and Eve Payeur perform the works of Wolfgang Rihm, Hugues Dufourt, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Martin Matalon, on 12 February 2019 at the Radio France Auditorium.

Maison de la Radio, Auditorium

The 2019 "Présences" festival committee took on the ambitious challenge of preparing a programme for the opening concert built around a new work, Atomization, Loop & Freeze by Martin Matalon and a work for piano solo by Wolfgang Rihm, opening the concert. Two works for percussion and piano by Dufourt and Stockhausen complete the programme. 

Concert Programme

Wolfgang RihmKlavierstück No.5 'Tombeau'
Hugues DufourtL'Éclair d'après Rimbaud
Karlheinz StockhausenRefrain op.11, for three instrumentalists
Martin MatalonAtomization, Loop & Freeze for three pianos and percussion

A student of Stockhausen, inspired by the Second Viennese School, led by Schoenberg, and later influenced by the music of Lachenmann and Nono, Wolfgang Rihm freedom of musical expression that he admires in the music of Debussy. A prolific contemporary composer, author of approximately 400 works, including his operas Jakob Lenz, die Hamletmaschine and Oedipus, he also draws creative inspiration from literature and his love of art.

L’Éclair [Lightning]: a violent explosion, an illumination, a thundering light, an all-consuming fire. Taken from A Season in Hell, L’Éclair is a prose poem written by Rimbaud 1873, after his break-up with Verlaine. Doubts, sarcasms, exclamations, reversals, screams of disgust inhabiting an inner void. "My life is worn out." Two pianos and two sets of percussion, illustrate L’Éclair. There is, of course, pianistic virtuosity - infernal, shuddering, lurching and turning in on itself. It moves forward all the same, consistent with a logical sequence of convolution, until reaching the abnormal silence at the end. The harmonic foundations are drawn from numerous metal spectra: the harmonic logic also progresses. The percussion is exclusively focused on metal instruments, which are only noisy spurts and slashes.

Stockhausen's "Refrain opus 11" is made of an ample and calm sound texture, disturbed six times by a brief refrain. This refrain contains each time glissandi and clusters, trills, bass notes (played by the piano), and short melodic fragments, elements that are not to be found in the other passages of the work's general form. As the musicians choose themselves where the refrain is played, these moments vary from one performance to the next.

Regarding his own creation, Atomization, Loop & Freeze, Martin Matalon explains: "Though the ensemble that was suggested to me, three pianos and three percussionists, is rare, it offers nonetheless a great wealth of possibilities for musical matter, colours, articulations... It allows for an extraordinary profusion of sound and great rhythmic potential. In the seven sections that make up Atomization, Loop & Freeze, various formal structures overlap one another: they represent the recurring problems and challenges of my work over these past years. Each section is characterised by a defined temporal articulation: a pulsation, an atomised pulsation, a ghost pulsation, an aleatory flow, a structured flow, and a floating temporality; each section is also defined by the line: a fragile and segmented line, a line of matter, an atomised line, a mass line, and a floating line.