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Présences Festival Opens

The 15th annual Présences Festival, honoring Pierre Boulez's former student Marc-André Dalbavie (b. 1961; see my post from December 24, 2004), is under way. Philippe Herlin was at the opening concert, featuring the Orchestre National de Montpellier (conducted by Juraj Valcuha) and guests, and wrote a review (Techno parade, January 29) for Here's a partial translation of what he had to say:

Marc-André DalbavieA superb opening concert of the 2005 Présences Festival, in the form of a gigantic crescendo: Marc-André Dalbavie inaugurated two weeks of concerts (free, let's remember) with The Rocks under the Water (2002), a static piece evoking The Unanswered Question with its fabric of strings and percussion chords (in the place of the trumpet in Ives's piece). Tension then mounted with the world premiere of Les mécanismes multiples de l'ivresse et de la nostalgie [The multiple mechanisms of drunkenness and nostalgia], by Québec composer Jean Lesage, film music—not meant to be pejorative—opulent, chatoyant, alluring but full of breaks. Finally there was the flood of sound, the orchestral hysteria, the savage rhythm of René Koering's Hier, aujourd'hui, demain [Yesterday, today, tomorrow], the world premiere of a new version, a piece for orchestra, two DJs (Manu le Malin and Torgul!), and a screaming voice (Gilles Yanetti). The orchestre, at triple forte almost the entire time, confronts and accepts the challenge of techno music, with the latter's "primary" and objective side influencing the symphonic mass.
Herlin compares the final piece to Varèse's Amérique and Rihm's Tutuguri. Another review (Le festival Présences se saborde, February 1) by Pierre Gervasoni for Le Monde adds a few details about the Dalbavie piece:
The Rocks Under the Water was conceived in 2002 for the opening of the Peter B. Lewis Building in Cleveland. This ecstatic piece is based on effects of spatialization impossible to recreate outside of the architectural context (designed by Frank O. Gehry) that inspired it. So the composer has revised his score so that it can be performed in any concert hall.
Gehry's Lewis Building is the home of the Weatherhead School of Management, on the campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Here are some pictures of its interior, where the Dalbavie piece was premiered. You can also watch this 18-minute video on the building.

The San Diego Symphony apparently performed Rocks under the Water on a program called French Masters (November 5 to 7, 2004). That concert will be broadcast on March 13 on the NPR program SymphonyCast (to see if you can hear this show in your area, check here). We in Washington will be able to hear it only if local station WETA does not convert to an all-news format. New York's Ensemble Sospeso will perform a new Dalbavie piece during their Boulez tribute concert (Zankel Hall, May 10).

New Paris music blogger Never Been Home (thanks to Alex Ross for the link) went to one of these concerts.

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