Lettre Soufie: Kh(à') (Esquif)

Ensemble with electronics
Mixed electronic music
Violon alto
17 min.
for string quartet and electronics
Date de création
With this new piece, I was continuing the composition of Lettres Soufies, a vast project of 28 compositions begun in 2000, freely inspired by symbolic scenes from Sufi mysticism (a branch of Islam). Each letter is a meditation on the boundaries of consciousness and the paradoxes of time, and they share multiple analogies, such as material, formal relations, style, meaning or instrumental effects, with the others. Khà’, the 15th stone in this edifice, is among the Lettres with a part for electronics: Z1 (Za’) for viola and piano, Z3 (Dhàl), for trombone and S2 (Thà’) – Ivraie – for an ensemble of 11 musicians.

The principle of Khà’ is pitting the intimacy and profundity of the string quartet against a shrill, rude and tempestuous electronic environment. The whirling, tumultuous sounds attempt to make the concentration of the chamber music burst into pieces. The little skiff (‘l’esquif’) lost in this furious ocean that reaches to the horizon stubbornly resists being swallowed up in the uproar around it, taking a chance at crossing the dark waters. Khà’ is a dream of crossing over.

The composition unites two seemingly irreconcilable universes, but in fact, the quartet never stops integrating and transforming the noises and sounds around it – it is from this very chaos that it draws its power and its cohesion.

The electronics in Lettre Soufie: Kh(à’) (Esquif) were produced in collaboration with the Centre Henri Pousseur.

Lettre Soufie: Kh(à’) (Esquif) was commissioned by the French-speaking Community of Belgium and was premiered on 28 October 2012 by Quatuor Danel during the TRANSIT Festival. [J.-L.F.]

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