ÉCLIPSE (1979)

to Olivier MESSIAEN - Editions Ricordi (Paris)
2 pianos and 16 or 22 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

By the game of universal rotation, three stars align themselves on a privileged axis. The movement of these planets, imperturbable, considerably modifies the zones in which this phenomenon takes place. On earth, this transformation, very slow, invites Man to a reflection on himself, to a withdrawal, to a descent towards the roots of his existence.

On the musical level, it is not so much the descriptive side of the phenomenon that will be exposed, but rather the psychological and meditative process that accompanies it.

A quick glance at the score shows a succession of five large phases which slowly interlock into each other, except for the segue from the second to the third which are carried out in a dry and brutal manner.

The first phase consists of a long hold in which an ornamental dialogue between the harp and the vibraphone merges. On this soundscape appears the bassoon, then the oboe with a very long phrase in several ascending periods.

In the second phase, seven different musics will cohabit, superimpose, string together and play each other, in a developed context of polyrhythmic imbrications.

The moment when the eclipse is total is symbolized by a big break, with the fff of the tam-tams. This third phase, a kind of very intense white noise, takes us into a space where Time is abolished. After a burst sfff attacks of the tam-tams, the sound matter is colored little by little by hybridizations of the harmonic mass with the other instruments.

In the long resonance of the metallic percussions, the fourth phase reveals a wide and slow harmonic material (pianos, harp and pizzicati of the strings), while the wind instruments unfold long chromatized phrases in imbricated counterpoint in two voices, then four and six voices.

After converging on the climax of the last phase, other sound materials develop and then progressively head for the extreme high-pitched, into imperceptible twinkling vibrations.

The work ends towards the sun, towards the Light - the only hope - the only future for our humanity.



→ 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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