In France, this coming March will be colored with the shades of Italian music, featuring a pair of world premieres. Francesco Filidei’s Ballata n.8, for ensemble and electronics, hits the stage at Biennale des Musiques Exploratoires, and is slated for a second performance in Paris in June, at ManiFeste 2022. Les paroles gelées, the new choral opera by Lucia Ronchetti, will be unveiled at Nouvelle Philharmonie in Paris.
for ensemble and electronics
WP: March 15, 2022 – Biennale des Musiques Exploratoires (B!ME), Théâtre de la Renaissance, Oullins
Featuring: Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain. Director: Bruno Mantovani; Ircam computer music design: Christophe De Coudenhove and Carlo Laurenzi.
I began my cycle of ballate ten years ago. Today that cycle contains eight different pieces, five of which feature soloists.
What these pieces have in common is a running time of between twelve and sixteen minutes, featuring ensembles that contain from twelve to sixteen players. Beginning with the titles, they all seek out a relationship with works from the Romantic period (first and foremost, the ballate composed by Liszt), as well as works from the Renaissance (in the form of stanzas).
Like Ballata n.1, Ballata n.8 features electronics. But while the former was written for organ and ensemble, the latter does not feature soloists.
In terms of form, Ballata n.8 opens with sudden blasts of material within the void that go searching for a direction in time while still remaining trapped inside their respective bubbles. The elements of anger make way for a long line of pedals that harbor fragments of melody. Those fragments wrap around themselves as they break into an obsessive reiteration of chords. The second part gets under way with an almost funereal march that retraces previous elements. It morphs into a more rarified coda that pays due homage to the tradition of Italian opera.
For male vocal ensemble, treble voice choir, amateur choir playing organ pipes, and pipe organ
Libretto based on The Heroic Deeds and Sayings of Noble Pantagruel by François Rabelais
WP: March 19, 2022 – Nouvelle Philharmonie, Paris
Featuring: Les Métaboles; Choeur Stella Maris; the Vocal Ensemble of Choeurs et Orchestres des Grandes Ecoles (COGE); Choeur Fiat Cantus; Choeur de Chambre du Conservatoire à Rayonnement Départemental de Montreuil; Le Choeur des Polysons; and music students at Lycée Van Gogh, Ermont (France). Conductor: Léo Warynski. Organ: Hampus Lindwall.
Les paroles gelées is a project based on the dramaturgy of sound, conceived for the Grande Salle of the Nouvelle Philharmonie in Paris. The focus and fulcrum of the project is the Rieger pipe organ – its sounds are developed, expanded and spatialized by the voices distributed within the architectural space.
The organ also represents “la mer glaciale” (the ice-cold sea) as described by Rabelais, rife with “les paroles glacées” (frozen words), which are the acoustic survivors of an ancient and brutal battle.
Rabelais describes the explosion of the frozen words sparked by their progressive melting. As they dissolve, the words project a sort of audio-film replete with lamentations, cries, shots ringing out, swords clanging, horses running.
The words now appear as “dragée perlée de diverses couleurs” – magically colored, pearly stones of ice, ready to restore the original sound to life.
Rabelais conjures up a miracle, as he stops sound and finds a way to fix it, to free it from the passing of time, as if in an acoustic still life. The frozen battle can be played again and again, with all the chaos provided by the uncontrolled melting of the ice, generating a futuristic sound poem. Suddenly we are witness to Rabelais’s attempt to describe the battle of sounds that springs forth from his collection of frozen words that Pantagruel so generously doles out.
This is a composition that attempts to breathe life into Rabelais’s futuristic dream.