for piano and ensemble of thirteen instruments (2004)
At the origin of this work lies a fascination for Japan, a country that feeds on that strange opposition between moder- nity and figures of the past. More than an opposition, one could even speak of the establishment of a veritable dialecic without it being clear, however, where precisely the frontier lies between these two worlds of thought. Though I had not visited the country at the time I wrote the work (which is no longer the case today), two circumstances nonethe- less nourished my imagination in respect of it. One, a particular anecdote drawn in from the past, is linked to the gift of a small Japanese bell offered by a friend of the “Land of the Rising Sun”. The other, from the domain of everyday perception, is embodied in the one who shares my existence and who, with her Japanese origins, never fails to broad- en my dreams of a distant Orient. These circumstances were for me the occasion to reflect on ‘sound’ as a focal point that opens out onto other, specific perspectives of the world: the inner world of the spiritual (a resonating sound); the outer, almost choreographic, world of thoughts and body movements that populate our everyday existence (sound in movement). And I would include, as a kind of metaphor of this ineffable frontier, the Japanese concept of ‘en’, a kind of transitory no man’s land in which the outer takes charge of the inner and conversely, an architectural corridor between the intimacy of a home and the garden that looks out onto the world, but also the imposing silence in Kabuki that separates two opposite actions that are momentarily frozen. The final metaphor of this kind is the title of the work: ‘Bell’ as opposed to ‘Belle’ (meaning ‘beautiful’ in French). This play between the particular occlusion of the sound ‘b’ in opposition to the infinite opening of a hissing ‘s’, the parenthesis personifying this fusion outside temporal space and material, encompassing the rest of this subjectivity, beyond any understanding even of these lines, there where the imagination of the listener could perhaps join that of the composer.
Bell(e)...S was commissioned by the Festival Ars Musica 2004. This ‘chamber concerto’ is dedicated to the japanese pianist Nao Momitani, the inspiration for this work, she who became my wife in this same year of the premiere.