Ritornello in memoriam Luciano Berio, For Flute and Piano (2003-04)
Commissionned by Anne-Cécile Cuniot

If Ritornello is a tribute to Luciano Berio, the music, however, borrows nothing from this late, great composer’s vocabulary.

The only link that might be established is the use of an extremely short cell (three descending sounds) and its proliferation throughout the work.

The title – a ritornello, but especially a refrain – indicates the manner in which the piece is organised: the little 3-sound cell (rhythmically out of phase with the piano) alternates with other, freer and slower episodes. The difference between this and the classical rondo appears here in the fact that the return to the refrain is never abrupt, but rather occurs through a progressive transformation (morphing) of the part that precedes it.

Whereas the ‘refrain’ is always rhythmical and canonical, the intermediate parts are more meditative, and the great central section is in total opposition to the idea of the transformation process that forms the basis of my music in general. This section gives the illusion of a disappearance of time, the loss of a temporal reference. It’s a poetic space in which time stands still. Music of the moment, or for eternity, depending on your viewpoint, or your listening-point, rather. The parallel between this long section and the slow section from my 1999 composition "Tombeau in memoriam Gérard Grisey" owes nothing to chance.

Before the piece ends on a homorhythmic section still organised around the little cell, all the elements that we’ve encountered find themselves interwoven with each other, or superimposed, thereby giving the illusion of a attempt at development that turns out to be quickly aborted.

Philippe Hurel

»Download the program note : Ritornello.rtf«


© 2007-2010 - Philippe Hurel et Gilles Pouëssel