First performance of the 5 Inventions: B. Mernier, 26.11.01, Brussels Cathedral
Five Inventions for organ (1998-2001)
Although composed in a wide time (between 1998 and 2001), the Five Inventions for organ form a homogeneous cycle. The term Invention also at once makes one think of Bach. If Benoît Mernier’s project has no avowedly pedagogical ambition, it is nonetheless close to Bach in its systematic exploration a single musical idea. The term « invention » is thus particularly well suited to these pieces that are both straightforward in their principle and complex in their construction and in their realisation.
The First could be an indicator to other works of Bach : his works for solo violin or cello. This is indeed practically a monody, an especially uncommon feature in the repertory of an instrument reputed for its polyphonic potential. This apparent impoverishment necessitates inventiveness in other parameters : the articulation, the rhetorical speed, and the leaps of tessitura produce a particularly original virtual polyphony.
Whereas the First Invention is linear, the Second is divided very clearly into three parts. On a single manual and –at the start of the piece- with a single stop (flute 4’), Benoît Mernier recomposes artificially (with occasional distortion) some characteristic organ stops such as the mixtures (mainly the tierce 1’3/5). The layout of the chords in crucial in this « aural illusion ».
The Third is a direct response to the first, as it takes up and extends the introductory recitative. This time the melody is accompagnied on a different manual. Yet in this case, the accompaniment does more than just provide harmonic support ; it affects the timbre of the solo voice, just as shade and contour can at times define or blur an object.
The Fourth is a polyphonic invention, as certain notes are sustained, creating unexpected resonances. From polyphony is thus born a luxuriance of tone-colour through textures and masses of variable density.
The Fifth Invention, finally, is a synthesis of the experiments in the first three : the layout of the material of the First, the articulation of a chord as in the central section of the Second, but using the procedures of the Third. The piece ends with a crescendo of mixtures.
(after Olivier Opdebeeck, in CD Cyprès CYP4612)
Graphic Editing : Gérard Billaudot, Paris
CD Editing : Cyprès, CYP4612, Bruxelles