Mathieu Dufour / Stéphane Denève / Brussels Philharmonic GUILLAUME CONNESSON Pour Sortir au Jour

Born in 1970, Guillaume Connesson is too young to have had to submit to the ideological and aesthetical diktats imposed on the previous generation of composers.
His music, always well-sounding and often spectacular, has absorbed all sorts of multiple influences. His very personal world is a work in progress, growing out of the mix of pragmatism and naïveté which is the trademark of all great creators. Over time and along a great diversity of compositions, Guillaume Connesson’s inspiration follows, in the composer’s own words, “the complex mosaïc of the modern world”.
His first steps were guided by a need to open up to other influences, like pop music - as evidenced in Night Club for orchestra (1996), Double Quatuor (1994) and Disco-Toccata (1994). This primarily rhythmic and hedonist vein, so rare in contemporary ‘serious’ music, reached its peak with the brilliant Techno-Parade for flute, clarinet and piano (2002). As in the works of American composers of the repetitive school (Reich, Adams) - another decisive influence, to wit Sextuor (1998) - the spirit of dance is omnipresent in Connesson’s music. It is therefore not surprising to learn that the cinema also inspired him : L’Aurore (1998) was composed as soundtrack to Murnau’s eponymous silent movie. Guillaume Connesson’s orchestral writing tries to create strong images, that will have a long-lasting effect on the listener. Yet he likes the uncertain, the unpredictable, the meandering melodies which find their resolution in a rich, dense, sometimes thick-woven yet always intell(e)gible writing. L’Appel du feu, a suite from L’Aurore, Enluminures (1999) or Triptyque symphonique (1997-2007) demonstrate his unequalled know-how as an orchestrator, whose harmonic twists and turns are always at the service of expression. In other words, the composer’s luminous compositional language is never the result nor the starting point of vain experimentation. Pragmatism vs idealism ? Yes indeed, if that means giving the pleasure of the ear precedence over fruitless speculation. Connesson - how revolutionary - writes music for the knowing musician. With all the means at his disposal, he also tries to adress a wider public by capturing its attention and sharpening its curiosity.
Add to his love of opera the fact that he is not afraid of lyrical outbursts, and it logically follows that Guillaume Connesson would write for the voice. Liturgies de l’ombre, Le Livre de l’amour and Medea, for female voice, all composed between 2000 and 2004, certainly mark a shift, if not a turning point in his career. The pieces reveal a more tormented, anguished inner world. Elegies fraught with emotion (De l’espérance, on a poem by Charles Péguy, or the complete Liturgies de l’ombre cycle ; My Sweet Sister on a poem by Lord Byron in Le Livre de l’amour and even in an orchestra piece from the same period : Une lueur dans l’âge sombre, 2005) or desperate, passionate scenes (the fierce Medea after a text by Jean Vauthier) let new interrogations show through.
His cantata for solo voice, choir and orchestra Athanor (2003) - an ambitious, striking, flamboyant piece - synthetizes all these influences and inspirations. The title is a reference to the alchimist’s furnace. A symbol, not to say an emblem for an artist in ceaseless pursuit of the miracle that would let music instantly turn the next minute into eternity. (Bertrand Dermoncourt)

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