Posted by Ricordi 30 August 2017
Ricordi Berlin is delighted about the publication of eight new works by Gérard Zinsstag, continuing the long-term contractual relationship with the composer and a sign of the publisher’s continued confidence in Zinsstag, born in Geneva in 1941.
A learned man with a creative mind: Gérard Zinsstag never imagines music in a solely abstract way, rather, he always uses it to convey a message. He often makes use of the poetry of old masters such as Petrarca or contemporaries he is friends with such as Jean-Claude Meffre. However, he also relies on the pure poetry of the sound just as often, permeated by influences of Sufism (Tahir), impressions which he gathered during his long journeys, e.g. to India, or ancient myths (Gilgamesh).
Classic titles such as Ricercari or Partita are slightly misleading. There is nothing neo-baroque about his compositions. As in other works as well, the form provides a classical reference structure in which the composer can develop freely. Katharine Lips even goes back to the Middle Ages in the times of witch burnings.
His humorous side comes to the fore in the Ubu Cocu opera, where he creates a perfect imitation of Alfred Jarry's dadaist style with his composition, which contains many quotes.
He had a very close friendship to Gérard Grisey, five years younger than him, and he found himself in a very close artistic exchange. They were both part of the Darmstadt circle around Stockhausen, Lachenmann and Ligeti, but the existing dogmas only had a limited influence on them. Even today Grisey plays the part of songwriter or inspiration (5th movement of the Partita: Spettri: Dans l'ombre de Grisey) for Zinsstag. The orchestral work Passage, which was dedicated to Grisey, premièred in 2002 by the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande under the baton of Fabio Luisi. It creates unprecedented tension from the deepest depths of the earth to the brightest star in the sky.
Zinsstag’s works are always somewhat enigmatic, as if the listener is taken to a forest of unfamiliar sounds and noises, which you cannot escape.
Zinsstag's most recent work, the piano concerto Masques is partly designed as a paraphrasing of Stravinsky, but also refers to his own works, choral technique and spectral music, and is therefore characteristic of Zinsstag’s stylistic individuality. It is being performed for the first time on 30th September in Göttingen with the local symphony orchestra, the pianist Ancuza Aprodu and conducted by Christoph-Mathias Mueller.
His next projects are a piano quartet and a Notturno for cello and ensemble.
Gérard Zinsstag: works, biography