Tombeau in memoriam Gérard Grisey, For piano et percussion (1999)
Commissionned by Shizuoka Hall, Japan

When Gérard died, I was working on a piece for piano and vibraphone of a playful nature. The immense grief that suddenly overwhelmed me led me to abandon the project, of which nothing but the instrument names remained. How better could I pay homage to Gérard, other than writing my very own music, with no reference to his, no signs of his influence? Nevertheless, it was the very violence of the Vortex temporum solo that started my piece off. It was imperative not to study the score, and yet to retain its force and use it as a possible metaphor. I had never had to confront this type of work before. The piece took on the appearance of a ritual, and the vibraphone player found himself with extra instruments such as cow bells, Thai gongs, crotals and woodblocks - all to ‘disturb’ the piano without actually putting it out of tune, as Grisey had done. For the first time ever, my music will not be objective. I had great difficulty in evaluating the material, and my momentary yielding to complete intuition might not have pleased the dedicatee. The piece is, however, imbued with Grisey’s spirit, and could not have seen the light of day without him. ‘In the end we are all part of society, however we look at it. We have but little, count for so little of what we could call our own, in the purest sense of the term. We all of us must accept and learn, both from them who came before us, and from those who are with us now’ (Goethe by Eckermann 17-2-1832 in Gespräche mit Goethe).

Philippe Hurel

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