Portail (CD) Track listing detail

Fabrezan Preludes

Denis Smalley

  • Year of composition: 2015-16
  • Duration: 20:58
  • Instrumentation: 8-channel fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: School of Music and Fine Art — University of Kent
  • ISWC: T9190985592

The central prelude, Debussy’s Cathedral, is based on the transformation and development of a pair of resonant chords taken from Debussy’s piano prelude La Cathédrale engloutie (The Submerged Cathedral), which evokes the story of the mythical city of Ys, submerged off the coast of Brittany. Legend has it that the city’s church bells can be heard in calm seas. Debussian intervals and scale patterns provide the framework for the prelude – rising, open fourths and fifths, pentatonic allusions. The spaciousness of a cathedral nave is suggested through textures of undulating, oscillating patterns and reflections, and wave-like surges, embellished by mobile strands of bell partials.

In the opening prelude, Portal, the listener crosses over the threshold into the cathedral nave.

The Voices of Circius (also known as Cercius) refers to the relatively unknown Roman god of the Cers wind to whom the Emperor Augustus dedicated an altar near Narbonne, in the south of France. The Cers blows across the country from the northwest, gathering force and circular motion as it travels over the plains through the broad valley corridors, moving towards the Mediterranean. It can be impetuous, emerging suddenly, chasing away clouds and rain, initiating sunny, luminous skies. Recognised as having health-inducing properties, it brings welcome cool breezes in the summer heat, but can be bitingly cold in winter. This prelude aims to capture aspects of its “voices.”

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Fabrezan Preludes was realized between 2015 and ’16 in the composer’s studios in Fabrezan (France) and London (England, UK), and premiered on May 21, 2016, in a concert to mark Denis Smalley’s 70th birthday, at the Colyer-Fergusson Hall in Canterbury (England, UK). The work was commissioned by the School of Music and Fine Art of the University of Kent (Medway, England, UK). Thanks to Aki Pasoulas, Director of MAAST (Music and Audio Arts Sound Theatre), for initiating the commission.


Premiere

  • May 21, 2016, Denis Smalley’s 70th Birthday Celebration, Colyer-Fergusson Hall — University of Kent, Canterbury (England, UK)

About this recording

The present stereophonic Ambisonic recording was produced by Jonty Harrison in April 2018 in his studio in Birmingham (England, UK).

Fabrezan Preludes, 1: Portal

Denis Smalley

  • Duration: 4:50
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média

Stereo

ISRC CAD502010056

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Fabrezan Preludes, 2: Debussy’s Cathedral

Denis Smalley

  • Duration: 7:10
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média

Stereo

ISRC CAD502010057

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Fabrezan Preludes, 3: The Voices of Circius

Denis Smalley

  • Duration: 8:51
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média

Stereo

ISRC CAD502010058

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Sommeil de Rameau

Denis Smalley

  • Year of composition: 2014-15
  • Duration: 15:20
  • Instrumentation: 8-channel fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Sonorities Festival
  • ISWC: T9164539177

Stereo

ISRC CAD502010059

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Sommeil de Rameau was composed in homage to Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), whose music I have long loved and admired; 2014 was the 250th anniversary of his death. I have drawn on characteristics of the sleep scene in French Baroque stage works and cantatas, which first occurred in Les amants magnifiques (1670), a comédie-ballet by Molière and Lully. Due to the popularity of the substantial scene in Lully’s tragédie en musique Atys (1676), sleep scenes became more firmly established, and many examples can be found during the following hundred years, Rameau’s stage works included.

When a sleep scene is invoked, a main character is exhorted to sleep, and dramatic action is suspended. The music may be solely instrumental, or may involve sung commentary, where, for example, the singers personify dreamed thoughts or suggest future courses of action. The musical style, with its slowish harmonic motion, undulating or rocking contours, and airy instrumentation (typically strings and flutes), is intended to create a contemplative atmosphere and a sense of timelessness. Rameau’s sleep music departed from the established Lullian characteristics, for example by using drifting, descending contours, which can sometimes be adventurously chromatic.

Sommeil de Rameau is a contemplative journey based around recurring refrain materials, contrasted with diversions into a series of episodes that lengthen as the piece progresses. My starting point was a refrain motive adapted from a pair of chords, rocking over a pedal note, marking the ends of phrases in the “sommeil” in Act IV of the tragédie en musique Dardanus (1739). Passages derived from Rameau’s music permeate the longer episodes, but these are recomposed and transformed, and are not intended as explicit references. Tonal intervals and harmony prevail, expanded through spectral ‘orchestration,’ creating a ‘spectral tonality,’ as if Rameau in his (occasionally disturbed) dreaming were contemplating an imagined musical future.

[xi-19]


Sommeil de Rameau was realized between 2014 and ’15 in the composer’s studios in Fabrezan (France) and London (England, UK), and premiered on April 25, 2015, during the Sonorities Festival at Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) — Queen’s University in Belfast (Northern Ireland, UK). It was commissioned by the Sonorities Festival. Thanks to Simon Waters, who initiated the commission.


Premiere

  • April 25, 2015, Sonorities Belfast 2015 — Fractured Narratives: Concert, Sonic Lab — Sonic Arts Research Centre — Queen’s University, Belfast (Northern Ireland, UK)

About this recording

The present stereophonic Ambisonic recording was produced by Jonty Harrison in April 2018 in his studio in Birmingham (England, UK).

The Pulses of Time

Denis Smalley

  • Year of composition: 1978
  • Duration: 19:54
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Barry Anderson, West Square Electronic Music Association with support from the Arts Council of Great Britain

Stereo

ISRC CAD502010060

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
In memory of Barry Anderson (1935-1987)

The Pulses of Time is based on approaches to the idea of pulse — the regular pulses of metre, the slower pulses underlying the longer-term progress of sections, the accelerating pulses of bounces, the pulses of iterative morphologies, and the compacted pulsing grains of textural interiors. The work comprises a series of sections, each identified with particular sound-types and sources — the synthesized bounced sound, metallic harmonies which expand the resonances of dramatic attacks, noise contours, drums and percussion both real and synthesized, and the clavichord, which provides a rich reservoir of sounds — clusters, sighing contours, percussive soundboard resonances, strings plucked and stroked. The main contrast is among improvised clavichord gestures, electronic synthesized material (EMS Synthi 100 voltage-controlled synthesizer), and dance-like sequences.

[xi-19]


The Pulses of Time was realized in 1978 in the Electroacoustic Music Studio of the University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) and premiered in 1979, in a concert given by the West Square Electronic Music Ensemble in St John’s Smith Square in London (UK). It was commissioned by Barry Anderson and the West Square Electronic Music Association with funding from the Arts Council of Great Britain. The Pulses of Time is now dedicated to the memory of Barry Anderson who died in 1987 at the age of 52.


Premiere

  • 1979, Concert, St John’s Smith Square, London (England, UK)

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