ÉCLIPSE (1979)

to Olivier MESSIAEN - Editions Ricordi (Paris)
2 pianos and 16 instruments - duration : 19'
1(pic).1(English horn).2(Bcl).1-, 2perc, hp, strgs (
commissioned by the French State for the Intercontemporain Ensemble
premiere : June 7th, 1979, France, Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou
Intercontemporain Ensemble, Denis RUSSEL DAVIES (conductor)


Programme note

Thanks to the universal rotation, three stars line up on a privileged axis. These planets movement, imperturbable, considerably changes the zones in which this phenomenon takes place.

On earth, this transformation, very slow, invites Man to reflect on himself, to a withdrawal, to a descent towards the roots of his existence. The breaking point with light always provokes this existential reflection.

On a musical level, it is not the descriptive side of the phenomenon that will be exposed but much more the psychologic and meditative process that goes with it.

A quick reading of the score shows a succession of five main parts that are slowly embedded with one another, apart from the segue between the 2nd and 3rd parts that happens in a brutal abrupt way.

The first phase is made of sustained stable element upon which another more mobile element with the same range is superimposed, ornamenting this long hold. A very long phrase with several periods appears on this sonic landscape, in the high pitches, with an oboe. This singing will be harmonized in the high pitches of the strings with very spaced out calls to the first piano, and in the extreme deep pitches by a succession of very slow and sombre waves.

The second phase shows a zone in which seven different musics will live together, get superimposed, follow and play with one another.

The 3rd phase, as a result and ending to what precedes, creates a white noise, a flat zone, using the trills in fff of the tom toms. After several breaks, this sonic material will be very slowly coloured by the progressive injection of harmonic masses to the wind instruments (mobile harmonics) and to the strings (stable and very slowly gliss harmony).

The 4th phase calls up towards the end of the long resonance of the tom-toms a large and slow harmonic material (with pianos, harp and string pizzicati) whereas the wind instruments deploy long phrases chromatised in embedded counterpoint with 2, 4 and 6 voices.

The 5th phase develops and superimposes five very contrasted sonic materials.

The work ends towards the sun, the light – only outcome – only hope still possible.



→ See Olivier Messiaen's letter to Allain Gaussin


Press articles

Bruno SERROU, Harmonie, Panorama de la musique n°46, Disques Calliope, octobre 1984

" Allain Gaussin retient la leçon sérielle pour exploiter les timbres avec plus d'intensité tout en élargissant son propre langage. Les trois pièces réunies ici, purement instrumentales, révèlent les grandes qualités de ce musicien. Éclipse, la page la plus longue du programme, est écrite pour petit orchestre et deux pianos. Dédiée à Olivier Messiaen, elle en a les qualités poétiques, mais avec sa personnalité propre. Le compositeur exploite au maximum les particularités des différents pupitres instrumentaux avec une maîtrise certaine. "

Olivier MESSIAEN, compositeur, 22 décembre 1980

" ... Éclipse est votre plus belle œuvre à ce jour, on y retrouve certains éléments esthétiques de vos œuvres antérieures, mais beaucoup plus affinés, beaucoup plus développés, et comme transfigurés. L'effet doit être extraordinaire à l'audition... "

Dino VILLATICO, La Republica, La musica contemporanea a Villa Medici, 2 juillet 1979

" Di tutt'altro carattere le musiche dei tre borsisti dell'Academia di Francia. Éclipse, di Allain Gaussin, per orchestra, contrappone due blocchi simmetrici di fasce sonore, ognuno dei quali parte da una fascia sottile e statica, per aumentare a poco a poco d'intensita e di spessore, e ricadere di nuovo quasi nell'impercettibile e nel silenzio. "


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