SATORI (1998)

to Gérard ZINSSTAG - Editions Leduc
clarinet - duration : 8’15’’
commissioned by the CNSM of Paris
premiere : December  19th,1998, France, Paris, Cité Universitaire
Mathieu FEVRE (clarinet)


Programme note

Satori is a Japanese word used in the Zen Buddhism. Its meaning translates an unique moment (extremely rare) of the self awakening – like an illumination – where the whole being enters in resonance with the forces of the Universe...

Writing for a soloist melodic instrument has always fascinated me. Indeed I consider “the musical phrase” as a noble and fundamental parameter, which presence leads to constantly take up the challenge of the melodic invention. With Satori I therefore tried to bring my own contribution to this universe so fragile, so mysterious... by exploring a personal path.

The main idea for Satori is based on the evolution of a process intimately linking two important musical concepts: the interval and the duration. If at the beginning of the score the musical phrases are expressed in small intervals and long durations, very progressively, towards the middle of the score, this binomial will be reversed with big intervals and short durations. This conception allowed me to create strange phenomena pertaining to the perception of time. Indeed, starting from a musical environment in which the durations are stretched-out, the piece gradually breaks with an even chronology, in order to penetrate into the vertiginous spirals of Time, by analogy with those sought by Zen Buddhist monks in their quest of Satori.

Other musical elements came to complete Satori’s writing :
- The insertion of repetitive micro-structures that, along the score, become more and more assertive.
They also have a structural role (like milestones) by superimposing themselves to the general shape.
- An ornamentation creating at the beginning a number of small short melodic cells, with progressively the emergence and extension of « ribbon-figures » (series of very fast regular thirty second notes). Their presence will eventually completely take over to constitute the main material (unusual Spirals and Coda).



→ Poem Satori, p. 51 L'attente… L'absolu, Allain Gaussin, Editions d’écarts, Paris, 2013.


Jean-Marc FESSARD (clarinet) - 2014, CD Harmonie des Sphères Allain GAUSSIN.


Press articles

Michael DERVAN, The Irish Times, Dublin, 28 novembre 2009

" Frenchman Allain Gaussin’s Satori (1998), for solo clarinet, explored a development of melodic line that both investigated microtonal gaps and donned the musical equivalent of 10-league boots in a way that blended struggle and sprezzatura. ".

Allan KOZINN, The New York Times, May 7th, 2009

"The concert began with Mr. Gaussin’s Satori which touched on Messiaen spiritual side, although the influence here is Bouddhist: the title refers to the moment of inner awakening and oneness with the universe. The music, for solo clarinet, evokes that moment in slow motion; a pianissimo line, slow moving and with bent pitches, gradually becomes louder, faster and more ans more densely chromatic. Carol McGonnell, the clarinetist, made her way from the meditative patience of the opening to the ecstasy of the finale with inexorable mementum and carefully calibrated virtuosity. ".


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