flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano - duration : 4’15’’
commissioned by Jean Louis PETIT for EMVA
premiere : December 12nd, 1982, France, Sceaux
Ville d’Avray Music Ensemble, Jean Louis PETIT (conductor)
In 1982, Jean Louis PETIT asked me to compose a short piece, whose duration don't exceed 4 minutes. So, to meet this challenge, I chose to create a musical Eau Forte (Etching), related to that of plastic technicians etchings for its proportions, its perceived material, and its internal ‘alchemy’.
Like etchings rather small formats, my piece is short (4’15”) and the number of instruments is reduced (a quintet).
The same way etchings, often monochromatic, can contain a few number of different colours, I only use here three distinct materials, two of them in quatuor (flute, clarinet, viola, cello) and one on piano.
The last analogy is one of the engraving technical process of etchings: the aqua fortis progressively corrodes the copper sheet and slowly reveals new shapes in a chronological time that isn’t regular. Here, this idea is musically evoked, by what constitutes the principal characteristic of Etching : a rhythmic study based on the very progressive inversion of a concept that affects the internal organisation of Time :
[ Fixed tempo – unstable rhythm ] -> [ unstable tempo – fixed rhythm ].
This slow transformation reveals (around certain beatings) some phenomena of attraction and gravitation that distort all regularity in the perception of Time.
Drawn by the inertia of the last cycle of piano homophonic quavers, the work ends with a rhythmic unison, as if transfixed, putting back the metronome and the “Time Arrow” to a fixed value. Here, Rhythm and Tempo, after being constantly opposed, end up uniting, therefore creating a strong temporal interaction.
J.W., Dernières nouvelles d'Alsace, Des explorations de l'Ensemble Fa, 28 septembre 1993
" ...Incisive, Eau Forte, traversée par un thème obsessionnel présente une idée fort avenante. On souhaiterait en découvrir davantage, malheureusement la pièce est trop brève... "