Music is born free; winning freedom is its destiny.
Ferruccio Busoni, 1907
PIANO IN THE XXIst CENTURY
Orléans Concours International selects a list of recent piano works for the semifinals of the 61st Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition
Orléans Concours International, a French institution founded by pianist Françoise Thinat and focusing on XXth and XXIst centuries works, has been selecting young talents accomplished in contemporary piano repertoire since 1994. Excellence and innovation are the values that have always guided OCI’s artistic activities, which include the Concours international de piano d’Orléans, the ‘Brin d’herbe’ international junior piano Competition, the recording of numerous albums and the commissioning of new works by internationally renowned composers while simultaneously championing the works of emerging young composers. Likewise, OCI guides and supports its laureates as their careers evolve through concerts, master classes, exhibitions, conferences and events, all the while focusing on the piano repertoire from 1900 up the present day. Beginning with the very first Concours international de piano d’Orléans in 1994, works by Xenakis, Ligeti and Messiaen have been performed side by side with those of Debussy, Casella and Fauré. The biennial competition is devoted wholly to the repertoire from 1900 to the present, with no aesthetic censorship whatsoever and with artistic quality as its sole aim. From its third occurrence forward, the competition has had the privilege of awarding a composition prize: the Prix André Chevillion–Yvonne Bonnaud. This prize, granted under the aegis of the Fondation de France, is awarded to a work by a candidate pianist who is also a composer or to an unpublished piece that has never been performed in public and was commissioned by the candidate to a pianist composer. The award was introduced in order to encourage artistic encounters and research within contemporary music, and to push our candidates to engage with the composers of today. The award immediately achieved distinction for its excellence, as evidenced by the first year recipient: Unsuk Chin, a Korean composer of great reputation, whose studies now form an integral part of the repertoire for any pianist who addresses today’s music.
Due to its specificity in regards to contemporary repertoire, the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition has asked Orléans Concours International to create a selection of a short piano pieces, written between 2000 and 2016, to be integrated into its 61st competition program. This collaboration came about thanks to the World Federation of International Music Competitions, an institution that brings the world’s most prestigious competitions together and thus makes these exchanges possible. For logistical reasons, the list comprises works for acoustic, unprepared piano, without the aid of electronics; the works were selected from amongst those submitted to the competition in past years, those recorded and subsequently performed at concerts given by our laureates and those nominated for our Chevillion–Bonnaud composition prize. In our selection, we tried to provide a tableau as international and diverse as possible, which reflects today’s piano scene.
To all of the pianists who take on the challenge of this musical adventure in discovery of sound: Good luck! And to the Busoni Competition: We hope that the 61st competition will be as memorable as always. The 13th Concours international de piano d’Orléans will take place in March 2018; the regulations will be posted on our website beginning November 2016.
Orléans Concours International
Thirteen extremely talented composers, thirteen thrilling piano works: this represents quite a challenge to the spirit of inquiry and talent possessed by these young performers who are participating in one of the world’s most famous competitions. Entering into the world of a composer requires inventiveness, imagination and a lot of empathy; these young performers have the privilege not only of knowing how to speak themselves, but also of understanding the language of composers who perished centuries ago. So why not achieve this same miracle with the personalities of today, those who are living and speak to us about our dreams, our predilections and our lives in the twenty-first century? Wishing all of you a wonderful journey …
Orléans Concours International
President and Founder
Throughout his lifetime, Ferruccio Busoni was a trailblazer – a pioneer in search of the new and the unexplored. In this sense he never viewed piano activity as an end in itself, but rather as a tool that furthers experimentation. The Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition not only affords contemporary music its due regard, but also selects its repertoire in keeping with Busoni’s penchant. Thanks to a fruitful collaboration with the Orleans international piano Competition, which dedicates itself with the utmost professionalism to contemporary piano music of the twentieth and twenty-first century, the 27 finalists of the 61st Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition will be able to choose from 13 new works for solo piano that offer a wide aesthetic variety and an array of technical challenges. Handling repertoire that embraces the many facets of that which is contemporary is a fundamental trait for any performer at the apex of his or her day. This collaboration with the Concours d’Orléans is an important first step towards this end.
Peter Paul Kainrath
Concorso Pianistico Internazionale Ferruccio Busoni
OCI wants to thank all the editors who have helped us to achieve this nice project
Kenneth Hesketh : Three Japanese Miniatures (2002)
Kenneth Hesketh, Three Japanese Miniatures (UK / 2002)
About 12 minutes – Editor : Schott Music
♦ Recording: Clare Hammond, piano – Album : Horae (pro Clarae) – BIS RECORDS (2016)
♥ Chevillion – Bonnaud Prize of the 5th International piano competition of Orléans
“The brightness of the abyss.” This oxymoron defines Three Japanese Miniatures, in which the continuity and balance of the musical discourse leave space for the unexpected, whether rhythmic, dynamic, registerial or articulatory. The internal construction of each miniature captures the fine attention to detail of a Japanese haiku. Using adjectives like “precisely detailed” and “labyrinthine” to describe his music, Kenneth Hesketh is an English composer known not only for his orchestral works but also his collaborations with the biggest names on the international music scene: Sir Simon Rattle, Susanna Malkki and Vasily Petrenko to name a few. A professor of composition and orchestration at the Royal College of Music in London and an honorary professor at Liverpool University, he studied among others with Henri Dutilleux, who has had a great influence upon Hesketh’s music, based upon a good equilibrium between solid formal construction and free musical discourse. Hesketh informs his music with an examination of the other arts, with a particular interest in classical architecture, medieval iconography, poetry and Bauhaus constructivism, and more recently, attention to the phenomenon of entropy and the mutation of existentialism.
The miniatures, pianist Clara Hammond’s recording of which is unparalleled, utilize a polarized atonality the heart of which creates modal harmonies whose reflections might indeed evoke Dutilleux, Messiaen or even Takemitsu. Hesketh claims the piano as his instrument and that is perhaps why here, more than in any other of his works, attention to detail makes the interpretation of these demanding passages a “labyrinth of mysterious complexity.” The three passages require that the interpreter focus on expressiveness, with a rather classic pianism oriented exclusively on the keyboard rather than the rest of the body of the instrument; the entire chromatic range is also used, as are the registers … the sound space opens, closes and is interrupted with an interesting variety of articulations.
The first miniature is called “Temple Music” and opens with a series of chords that are developed and then alternate with broad clusters of high notes, culminating in a persisting ostinato, again of common chords, alternating between low and high. All of this leaves space for a resonant tremolo, which continues to wash over a series of consonant chords that create small waves of crescendo and decrescendo, with surprising staccatos in the middle, which are then finally extinguished.
The second miniature, meanwhile, opens with a brilliant arpeggio: the morning sun penetrates the abyss, and the notes become increasingly clear as they melt slowly into darkness. Its subtitle is “The Cradle Rocks”: we climb up and down over rocks, trying not to fall, and avoiding slippery stones, because these rocks collect sparkling rain water like cradles; at the end of the passage the light emerges from the depths, touching the sky once again. The third miniature “Little Bumbuku,” is inspired by a Japanese folk tale; its scherzo form perfectly rounds out the cycle.
(C) Isabella Vasilotta
Gerard Pesson : Vexierbilder II (2003)
Gerard Pesson, Vexierbilder II (France / 2003)
About 12 minutes – Editor: Lemoine
♦ Recording: Hermann Kretschmar, piano – available on youtube http://bit.ly/2bVZm1i
After studying literature and musicology first at the Sorbonne and then at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris, Gérard Pesson founded the contemporary music magazine Entretemps in 1986. A pensionnaire at the Académie de France in Rome (Villa Medici) from 1990 to 1992, he has been a professor of composition at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris since 2006. His works are performed in France and abroad by soloists and ensembles such as Ensemble InterContemporain, l’Itinéraire, the Ensemble Modern and Klangforum Wien, to name just a few.
In German, the word Vexierbild means “trick” or “puzzle.” Vexierbilder I, written in 1991, used this idea of a misleading picture that continuously shifts its point of reference, focusing on deliberately impoverished material. In the three new pieces that follow, comprising Vexierbilder II, the music tries to build itself around a gesture, with a systematic representation, shaping and cutting off any development.
Somewhat in the vein of Années de pèlerinage, the city of Rome was the raw material for the encrypted images of the first three parts of Vexierbilder. Meanwhile at the center of these three new pieces, we have the work of the American poet Wallace Stevens, in particular that of his first collection Harmonium (published in 1923), where we search along narrow pathways for “the transcendent character inherent to music” (Claire Malroux).
In Speech of Clouds two notes, a simple C-A third in the middle register, are solicited by two hands, which in the end become inseparable and sound like a muddle of chimes. In the second part of the piece, after a short recitativo that comes out of silence, these virtuosic trajectories withdraw towards a grainy formula for just five fingers, in the shadows, as softly as possible, like a worn-out weave, or a reverse side that shows the deficiency of its knots. At the same point on the keyboard a countermelody is set down, as if the two hands no longer belonged to the same body.
Negation is a slow passage that returns to the arte povera previously sought by the composer in the Vexierbilder collection. The harmonic object is stark naked here, like an adversary whose character spins around in questioning ambiguity, and from which various ostinati are built and wiped out without development, echoing Stevens’ poem of the same name: Hi! The creator too is blind / Struggling toward his harmonious whole / Rejecting intermediate parts / Horrors and falsities and wrongs / Incapable master of all force / Too vague idealist, overwhelmed / By an afflatus that persists.
Matthias Pintscher : On a clear day, for piano (2004)
Matthias Pintscher, On a clear day (Allemagne / 2004)
About 8 minutes – Editor: Uraufführung
♦ Recording: Andrew Zhou, laureate of the 11th International piano competition of Orléans
♦ Recording: Andrew Zhou, piano – album: Vienne et après – TESSITURES (2013)
The piece On a clear day forms part of the Orléans Concours International record collection, and was recorded by Andrew Zou, one of laureates of the 2012 Concours international de piano d’Orléans. Below is the descriptive text written by Luca Dupont specifically for the disc booklet, published by the label Tessitures and entitled “Vienne Et Après,” an immersion in German music.
Originally from northwestern Germany and a prolific creator for all types of musical ensembles, Matthias Pintscher describes his music as “an imaginary theater full of mysteries and secrets, which rediscovers and redefines its own sensibility without interruption.” It is thus directly upon the imagination of the listener and her manifold dimensions that the composer wishes to test the effects of his sound palette, creating pictorial associations, satisfying all of the senses and putting time lived into perspective with respect to the musical tempo. On a clear day is a good illustration of the composer’s aesthetics: the piece, written in 2004 and dedicated to Mitsuko Uchida, expresses the metaphor of clouds passing through a clear sky. The piece, which bears the indication “evenly floating and swaying” – an image with a strong evocative power both visually and at an auditory level – establishes an analogy between the timbre of the piano and the movement of water within the atmosphere.
From the very first sound, a harmonic note obtained by pressure exerted on the string by the pianist’s finger, the relationship between pitch and timbre is explored in order to musically express the fugitive nature of the movement of a cloud, in its density as well as in its contours. The chords themselves are utilized for their auditory quality rather than for their harmonic properties, and the use of pivot notes reestablishes a sensation of floating; the auditory experience created allows for contemplation of the sky, the mystery of which wins over all subjectivity.
(C) Luca Dupont
Vera Ivanova : Aftertouch (2005)
Vera Ivanova, Aftertouch (Russia-USA/ 2005)
About 8 minutes – Unpublished
♦ Recording: Daniela Mineva, piano – available on Soundcloud http://bit.ly/2bW0qSP
♥ Winner (tie) of the Chevillion – Bonnaud Prize at the 8th International piano competition of Orléans
Vera Ivanova was born in Moscow, and studied composition at the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in Moscow, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and the Eastman School of Music. A professor at Chapman University, Ms. Ivanova has received numerous prizes and awards; her compositions include orchestral works, chamber music and electroacoustic music, and have been performed in Russia, Europe and the USA. In 2008 she won the Chevillon-Bonnaud Prize for her song Aftertouch for acoustic piano, as interpreted by the Bulgarian-born pianist Daniela Mineva.
(C) Vera Ivanova
To see the score please click here :
Esteban Benzecry : Toccata Newen (2005)
Esteban Benzecry, Toccata Newen (Argentine / 2005)
About 8 minutes – Editor: Filarmonica Music Publishing
♦ Recording: Horacio Lavandera, piano – available on YouTube http://bit.ly/2bIFNih
Esteban Benzecry was born in Argentina in 1970, and is one of the most talented South American composers of his generation. In 1997 he moved to Paris, where he studied composition with Jacques Charpentier and Paul Méfano as well as electronic music with Laurent Naon and Luis Cuniot. In his most recent music, his interest has been to create a fusion of Latin American rhythms and to investigate new music made in Europe. Likened to Villa-Lobos and Ginastera for his love of Latin American music, he is performed at and receives commissions from major institutions such as Carnegie Hall and Radio France; from 2004 to 2006 he was in residence at the Casa de Velázquez (Académie de France in Madrid). Having already been submitted to the Concours international de piano d’Orléans, Toccata Newen was recently interpreted by the Chilean pianist Maria-Paz Santibanez during the course of the Orléans Concours International concert season as part of the “Les Matinées du piano” series in the Salle de l’Institut Orléans.
Toccata Newen is a piece dedicated to pianist Horacio Lavandera, who premiered it in 2005 at the Manuel de Falla concert hall in Madrid. The work begins with a mechanical allusion to energy (a direct translation of the Mapuche word Newen). The Mapuche are an indigenous Patagonian people living in southern Argentina and Chile. The composer does not strive to perform musicological research through the piece but rather to take Mapuche roots, myths and rhythms as an inspirational wellspring for developing his own language, an imagined folklore if you will. The piece is founded upon rhythmic, harmonic and melodic themes that are evocative of this concept.
At the formal level we have a ternary ABA, which begins with a fast and wild dance that simultaneously serves to showcase the virtuosic skill of the pianist. The middle section becomes more contemplative, with an introduction that suggests a vidala, a type of song typical of northern Argentina, reverberating at the piano’s extreme registers. After a light interlude that evokes peace, the initial ferocious rhythm returns and continues until the end. Throughout the piece, the composer utilizes not only an array of folk-music components but also minimalist, atonal and pentatonic processes.
Christian Mason : Just as the Sun is Always (2006)
Christian Mason, Just as the Sun is Always (Royaume-Uni / 2006)
About 8 minutes – Editor: Babel Scores
♦ Recording: Joseph Huston, piano – available on Soundcloud http://bit.ly/2bZZxxe
Jacques Lenot : Dramatis Personae (2007)
Jacques Lenot, Dramatis Personae (France / 2007)
About 7 minutes – Editor: L’Oiseau Prophete
♦ Recording: Winston Choi, piano – album: J. Lenot – Intégrale de l’oeuvre pour piano, INTRADA (2010)
Dai Fujikura : Joule (2009)
Dai Fujikura, Joule (Japon – 2009)
About 10 minutes – Editor : Ricordi London
♦ Recording : Sunwook Kim, piano – available on YouTube http://bit.ly/2bIGyb4
Dai Fujikura was born in Japan, but moved to London at the age of 15. Initially attracted by cinema music he later discovered the works of Boulez, Ligeti and Takemitsu and his ambitions as a composer shifted perspective. He achieved immediate success, winning the Serocki International Competition in only his second year of composition, and subsequently decided to investigate the technical aspects of his art by visiting Darmstadt; paradoxically, it was there that he heard traditional Japanese music for the first time. Interested in the exploration of acoustic spatialization of the orchestra, often physically placing musicians within the room in an alternative way (for example, the orchestra surrounding the audience, which is placed in the center of the room), he has continued his musical exploration accompanied by figures the likes of Péter Eötvös and George Benjamin. Pierre Boulez was a great supporter of Fujikura’s work, to the extent that he asked him to write a song in celebration of his 80th birthday at the Cité de la Musique, with the Ensemble Intercontemporain. Performed by many of the world’s greatest ensembles and soloists, Dai Fujikura is a leading voice on the musical scene today.
Joule was written for Korean pianist Sunwook Kim, winner of the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition in 2006, and commissioned by BBC Radio 3. The piece, which combines a marked interest in both piano technique and aesthetic research, begins with a jazz reference and from there opens up new rhythmic and harmonic universes. The composer’s note of intention follows.
To see the score please click here :
Adam Roberts : Lacuna (2010)
Adam Roberts, Lacuna (USA / 2010)
About 8 minutes – Unpublished
♦ Recording: David Hughes – available on Soundcloud: http://bit.ly/2bZYSM7
♥ Winner of the Chevillion – Bonnaud Prize at the 9th International piano competition of Orléans
Adam Roberts studied composition at the Eastman School of Music, at Harvard University, and in Vienna. Among his composition professors we find illustrious names the likes of David Liptak, Augusta Read Thomas, Martin Bresnick, Bernard Rands, Joshua Fineberg, Julian Anderson and Chaya Czernowin. His music has been interpreted by prestigious ensembles such as Quatuor Arditti, JACK Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and Ensemble FA, as well as at various festivals including Wien Modern (Autriche), Musique Biennale en Scène (Lyon) and the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (Boston). Adam Roberts teaches music history and composition at Istanbul Technical University and its Centre for Advanced Studies in Music. In 2011 he was Composer in Residence at the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center. In 2010 he won the Chevillion-Bonnaud Prize at the Ninth Concours international de piano d’Orléans, with the American pianist David Hugues performing his piece Lacuna.
Alice Ho : Aeon (2012)
Alice Ho, Aeon (Canada-Chine / 2012)
About 8 minutes – Editor: CMC (Canadian Music Center)
♦ Recording: Claudia Chan, piano – available on the website of the pianist: http://bit.ly/2clttTB
♥ Nomination for the Chevillion–Bonnaud Prize at the 10th International piano competition of Orléans
Claudia Chan, winner of the Claude Helffer Prize at the 2016 Concours International de piano d’Orléans and currently the resident pianist at the prestigious Fondation Royaumont, presented Aeon for the Chevillion-Bonnaud Prize during the 2010 Concours international de piano. Alice Ho is one of the most acclaimed composers writing in Canada today. Born in Hong Kong, Alice Ping Yee Ho has composed in a wide variety of musical genres, and has received many national and international awards. Critics describe her music as highly dramatic in nature and at the same time full of grace, praising her “organic flow of the imagination,” her distinct individual style and her orchestral technique, which is both colorful and rich in emotional qualities. Influences evident in her proudly eclectic musical approach include the use of idioms from folk music, Chinese opera, and African percussion as well as those from Japanese Taiko and plainly of jazz. Her ongoing goal is to explore new musical styles, stimulating the ear in a provocative way.
(C) Alice Ho
Stefano Gervasoni : Prés, Book 3 (2014-15)
Stefano Gervasoni, Prés, Book 3 (Italie / 2014-15)
About 14 minutes – Editor: Suvini Zerboni
♦ Recording: Franco Venturini – available on YouTube http://bit.ly/2bIi3cZ
Stefano Gervasoni, an Italian composer from whom the Busoni Competition previously commissioned a piece for voice, piano and orchestras entitled Fantasia, constructs a deeply personal musical universe aimed at both the traditional and the new, with a particular focus on the perception and evolution of instrumental and composition techniques. Once a student of Luigi Nono, today Gervasoni is a professor of composition at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris. His music has been performed all over the world, from the Teatro alla Scala to Suturi Hall in Tokyo to the Philharmonie de Paris, naming just a few important venues.
Written by Stefano Gervasoni between 2008 and 2015, Prés is a cycle of eighteen pieces divided into three books; it was recently interpreted by pianist and composer Franco Venturini, one of the winners of the 2008 Concours international de piano d’Orléans.
“Eighteen little préludes so small that they must be called prés, which means “meadow” in French. Therein lies the theme underlying the cycle, which is inflected in six different modalities, three in three parts: the seeming insouciance of a meadow where children play, the premonition of something dark impending, the innocent eyes of a child, able to give advance warning, with all the sense of threat that the adult is not able – or does not wish – to comprehend.”
“Prétérit,” “Pressenti” and “Prédicatif” open the third book, forming part of a triptych, in accordance with the structure designed for each book comprising six passages, thematically addressing variations of tempo, in order of presentation: the past – the future – the present. Composed on a later time, “Pré d’après” and “Pré d’avant” complete the “temporal” triptych, followed by “Pré de près,” the final part of the entire Prés cycle.
In these pieces the arrow of time is never univocally directional; its three tempi combine in a complex temporal dimension, in which the forward gaze is simultaneously retrospective. The approach, purely perceptual/functional rather than postulating the conquest of the present, becomes intuition about what will one day be an almost-utopian impulse to change the existing, when it was felt as unjust or inappropriate or insufficient; it is supported by the desire to preserve in order to transform that of the past which is perceived as value, heritage and guide to knowledge, and becomes irreplaceable fuel for discovery. “Prédicatif” is a tribute to Nono, and the two that precede it in the triptych of the tempi (“Preterit” and “Pressenti”) are inspired by his music and his figure: the Nono of the nostalgic, utopian, future distance.
The last piece, “Pré de près,” resumes the material of major and minor triads from the first three pieces of the first book, as well as the method of enfolding the triads like Russian dolls, one inside the other. In this piece we witness up-close the slow growth of grass in a meadow. Little by little, one note is added to another, following a process of accumulating thirds, like the slow and continuous growth of ivy, engulfing the notes of an ascending triad and of a descending one, with two extremely slow arpeggios slowly intersecting each other in ever-changing ways.
To see the score please click here :
Philippe Hersant : Le Carillon d'Orléans (2016)
Philippe Hersant, Le Carillon d’Orléans (France / 2016)
About 14 minutes – Editor : Durand-Salabert-Eschig / Universal Music Publishing Classical
Piece commissioned by OCI for the Final round of the 12th International piano competition of Orléans
♦ Recording: Marianna Abrahamyan, piano – Sacem Prize at the 2016 International piano competition of Orléans
Philippe Hersant was born in Rome. He has firstly studied composition in the Paris Conservatory with André Jolivet and then went to the Casa Velasquez from 1970 to 1972 and to the Villa Médicis from 1978 to 1980. He has been awarded several times like for the Grand prix SACEM de la musique symphonique or twice for the Victoires de la Musique Classique. Philippe Hersant composed more than 90 pieces. He likes mixing the tonal and atonal languages. The french composer has been chosen to write the piece for the Orleans Concours International 2016, last round. This piece is named “Le Carillon d’Orléans”, for piano solo and published by Editions Durand.
“Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by bells. You can find them a lot in my symphonic and lyrical pieces but they also appear a lot in my chamber music with piano. When I was on the jury for the Coucours International d’Orléans 2014, I could not walk past the Cathedral without thinking of the four-note carillon on which Christophe Moyreau (18th Century) wrote his Cloches d’Orléans.
Later, Françoise Thinat did me the honour of commissioning a piece for the Concours 2016 and, naturally, I had the idea to write a great carillon in the same vein as Moyreau did three centuries before me. I imagine the music will sometimes resound and exhilarate, and at other times it will be nostalgic and distant ; I want the music to be poetic and refined, and also to make use of the piano’s resonances.
To see the score please click here :
Hector Parra i Esteve : Cell (Arch for Hystérie) (2016)
Hector Parra i Esteve, Cell (Arch for Hystérie) (Espagne / 2016)
About 9 minutes – Editor : Durand-Salabert-Eschig / Universal Music Publishing Classical
H. Parra will compose the mandatory piece for the Final round of the 13th International piano competition of Orléans – commissioned by OCI.
♦ Recording: José Menor – extract available on Soundcloud: http://bit.ly/2bQEp9e
To see the score please click here :