Tristan Murail to lecture at Skaņu Mežs, performed by Quatuor Diotima

French composer Tristan Murail, often mentioned in relation to the spectralism movement in contemporary music, will visit Skaņu Mežs festival with a lecture at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music on October 4. Also, on October 12, at music hall „Daile”, his string quartet „Sogni, Ombre Et Fumi” will be performed by Quatuor Diotima, the very ensemble it was written for.

The leading exponent of so-called “spectral” music, Tristan Murail has done more than any other living composer, not only to challenge accepted ways of writing music, but to redefine our understanding of the very nature of musical material itself. Returning to the fundamental acoustic properties of sound for his inspiration, Murail has invented (or simply discovered) a musical world of huge originality and often disconcerting strangeness. But for all his work’s theoretical novelty and sophistication, his overwhelming interest in harmony, sonority and musical colour places him firmly in the line of great French composers stretching back through Boulez to Messiaen, Ravel and Debussy.
Among Murail’s awards are the Prix de Rome (presented by the French Académie des beaux-arts in 1971), the Grand Prix du Disque (1990), and the Grand Prix du Président de la République, Académie Charles Cros (1992).
Murail’s works are published by Éditions Transatlantiques and Éditions Henry Lemoine. His music has been recorded on the Una Corda, Metier, Adés, and MFA-Radio France labels.

Founded in 1996 by laureates of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, the Quatuor Diotima has gone on to become one of the world’s most in-demand ensembles. The name reflects the musical double identity of the group: the word Diotima is both a reference to German Romanticism – Friedrich Hölderlin gave the name to the love of his life in his novel „Hyperion” – as well as a nod to the music of our time, recalling Luigi Nono’s work Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima.
The Quatuor Diotima is honored to partner with several of today’s major composers, such as Helmut Lachenmann, Brian Ferneyhough and Toshio Hosokawa, while also regularly commissioning new works from a broad range of composers, such as Tristan Murail, Alberto Posadas, Gérard Pesson, Rebecca Saunders and Enno Poppe. While staunchly dedicated to contemporary classical music, the quartet is not limited exclusively to this repertoire. By programming major classical works alongside today’s new music, their concerts offer a fresh look at works by the great composers, in particular Bartók, Debussy and Ravel, the late quartets of Schubert and Beethoven, composers from the Viennese School, and Janácek. Quatuor Diotima are: Yun-Peng Zhao (violin), Constance Ronzatti (violin), Franck Chevalier (viola), Pierre Morlet (violoncello).

Murail describes „Sogni, Ombre Et Fumi” in the following words: „It is above all a work concerned with “grand form”; an immense trajectory that crosses numerous territories, backtracks, anticipates… There are allusions to traditional forms: central adagio, final rondo – but everything intermingles, with the various textures and musical ideas in continuous confrontation between themselves.

All of the little devices that distract from the greater question, are rejected – the question posed by a musical form as historically encumbered as the string quartet; are thus avoided, all of the crushed sounds, diverse small noises and harmonic gurgles that abound in contemporary quartets. Also avoided, is segmentation into a succession of short movements, to favour the continuity of discourse.
The theme, as the title suggests, is melancholy – deep and persistent melancholy. A set idea (steady pizzicato pulsation) punctuates the score, clashes with other musical elements, and prevails in the end. All along this trajectory are visions, hallucinations, phases of depression and elation, of renunciation, of hope, of anger, of revolt, that suddenly surge forth…”

Stay tuned for further announcements of Skaņu Mežs 2018. Tickets to the festival can be purchased here: Advance sales ticket for a single concert night costs 15 EUR. Meanwhile, the two-day passes are currently available for 23 EUR.

Skaņu Mežs festival is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Latvia, State Culture Capital Foundation, the Municipality of Riga, Trust for Mutual Understanding as well as iRobot, Valmiermuiža and Red Bull Music Academy. Skaņu Mežs is also a member of the SHAPE platform for innovative music and audiovisual art, supported by the „Creative Europe” program of the European Union, and I.C.A.S., an international network of festivals, devoted to adventurous sound.
Skaņu Mežs happens on October 12 and 13 at music hall „Daile” with an opening event on October 6.

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