MICHAEL JARRELL (b.1958): Émergences-Résurgences for Viola and Orchestra, … Le ciel, tout à l’heure encore si limpide, soudain se trouble horriblement… for Orchestra, 4 Eindrücke for Violin and Orchestra.

Catalogue Number: 03W068

Label: BIS

Reference: 2482

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $19.98

Description: Jarrell's music, despite its obvious modernity, is remarkable for the composer's skill in retaining familiar-sounding elements - rich harmony here, clearly defined rhythmic patterns there - and anchoring points of orientation for the listener - "pivotal" notes to which the surrounding material is gravitationally attracted, or long melodic strands which lead the ear through the texture. The works frequently have a visionary element; the composer is drawn to themes of dream, unreality and myth. The viola concerto Émergences-Résurgences evokes the work of artist and poet Henri Michaux, who experimented with mescaline and whose output is infused with the heightened, hallucinatory patterning induced by that psychotropic drug. The orchestral part is often immersive, even oppressive, while the constantly coiled, energetic solo part suggests the jittery, quasi-calligraphic patterns of Michaux's graphic works. The whole piece, in fact, has a shimmering, fluctuating energy, like a landscape in which the inner vibrating energy of inanimate objects has somehow become visible. The concerto is in four movements, the second a static slow movement suspended in time, which turns into a vital pizzicato dance for the viola; the third a vigorous scherzo with a slow final section which introduces the heaving, eruptive finale, which completes the arch initiated by the first movement. Jarrell's fourth violin concerto, "Four Impressions" is a work of great dynamism, in four contrasting movements. The first is highly virtuosic and dynamic. In the second, a sinister scherzo, the orchestra establishes a rapid insectoid motion using a variety of playing techniques, while the soloist becomes a foreground member of the ensemble, playing only pizzicato. The third movement is slow, its tension stretched almost to breaking point, finally settling on an immensely slow melody pivoting on the note E, while the finale returns to the virtuosity of the first movement, in frantic perpetual motion. ... Le ciel, tout à l’heure encore si limpide, soudain se trouble horriblement ... (The sky, always clear, is suddenly horribly opaque) begins with a torrent of overwhelming violence, suddenly replaced by a looming, ominous stillness. Very gradually the clouds lighten and clear, and the piece enters an atmosphere of luminous, translucent calm. Thunderheads threaten, but the opening cataclysm is avoided and the music fades to stillness. The work was inspired by the title, a phrase from De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) by Lucretius, and by a sudden, shocking tragedy that befell acquaintances of the composer, and its juxtaposition of tranquility and catastrophe is as powerful as it is emotionally stirring. Tabea Zimmermann (viola), Renaud Capuçon (violin), Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire; Pascal Rophé.


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