SAED HADDAD (b.1972): Le Contredésir for Clarinet, Horn and Cello, On Love I for Qanun and Ensemble, On Love II for Piano and Ensemble, Les Deux Visages de l'Orient for Violin, Études Mystérieuses for Piano, The Sublime for Ensemble.
Catalogue Number: 11M105
Reference: WER 6578 2
Description: Haddad is said to be an immensely self-critical composer, who destroyed his output prior to the age of 30; the booklet-note writer also seems to suggest an espousal of a kind of musical purism devoid of fashionability and aiming for the expression of some kind of extramusical transcendence. Well, he's not the only one, though one might argue that the aim is laudable. In his earlier extant works, now meaning those from as recently as 2004, such as Le contredesir, the earliest work here, Haddad aimed for a synthesis of Arabic and western methods. The music is fluid and nuanced, lyrical but constantly inflected by non-western subdivisions of the octave. This is also the case in the first of the two On Love pieces, which incorporates an Arabic instrument, the qanun, a type of zither tuned in multiple microtones. Emulation of the sounds and scales of middle-eastern instruments is also achieved through sub-semitone scales for the western instruments. The music of both pieces is supple, full of contrasts, and although passages of sensual calm abound, so do active ensemble tutti, and rhythmically vigorous, fast music. The piano Etudes build complex textures through contrasting material in different voices. The most recent work, 2007's The Sublime is for ensemble subdivided into smaller groups; the composer avoids complex cross-rhythms, preferring timbral contrasts and the subdivision of material between parts, and fluidity of pulse as a means of building apparently complex, but always lucid, textures. Ulrike Stortz (violin), Noriko Kawai (piano), Ensemble Modern; Martyn Brabbins, Franck Ollu.