accordion and piano

The two extreme movements (I and III) of Métaphores (1992) are both very fast and use repetitive and minimalist writing, while the central movement (II) is slower and lyrical in character.

The first movement is in ABA’ form. Written in 7/8 time, the A section progressively builds up (both in terms of dynamics and number of notes) a motif of seven two-note eighth-note chords. This construction is spatialised between the accordion and the piano. The B section (written in 5/8 time) follows on an obstinate bass of five notes (A, C, B flat, D, G) on which a looped melodic motif is superimposed, but in such a way that it starts each time on a different note of the ostinato. Here too, spatialisation, canon writing, variations in registers, etc. make the discourse evolve with an “evolving repetitive” technique. After a brief pause, the A’ section brings the A section back in retrograde motion, i.e. it starts from the end and returns to the beginning. However, it is more concise, with the “deconstruction” accelerating as it goes along. The movement ends very gently on the two-tone chord (D, G) of the beginning.

The second movement is built as a series of variations on two motifs played ‘staccato’ in the bass. A singing theme appears, stated in various ways. This is followed by a more rhythmic part in which one of the two bass motives is played in canon between the two instruments, while a new theme emerges, also in tight canon. Then the opening theme returns, but in a stronger form, set for a moment in counterpoint with the second theme. Then, slowly, everything begins to deconstruct by the progressive suppression of notes. The movement ends dreamily with a long, questioning silence.

Built in two sections, the third movement, written in 5/8 time, builds a rapid motif note by note, each played alternately by the accordion and the piano, giving a striking effect of spatial distribution. Other motifs then appear, all superimposed in various ways, densifying the musical fabric until the climax is abruptly interrupted by a brief pause. The B section in 7/8 follows. Two melodic motifs written in reversible counterpoint serve as the basic material for this final part of the work, which sees the rapid motif from the beginning looped in a “polymetric” superposition (5/8 on 7/8). This gives an effect of hallucinatory vertigo, of an inexorable race to the abyss.

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