OPHELIA. Her heart is a clock

for bass for flute/bass flute, oboe, clarinet/bass clarinet, trumpet, percussion, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass
Premiere: Ensemble Linea (dir. Jean-Philippe Wurtz), Festival Musica, Strasbourg, France, October 2015 (16 min)

Ensemble Linea: flute/bass flute: Keiko Murakami, oboe: Heidi Caillet, clarinet/bass clarinet: Jean-Marc Foltz, trumpet: Julien Wurtz, piano: Reto Staub, percussion: Olivier Maurel, violin: Marco Fusi,  viola: Elodie Gaudet, cello: Elsa Dorbath, double bass: Sven Kestel

From an email interview:

On Wednesday, October 7, 2015, __________ wrote:


I am journalist for the blog of musica. I already came to you just after the performance of OPHELIA. I just wanted to ask some additional questions about your piece, if you have time, naturally.

– I wanted to know what did you want to express through OPHELIA. We see different colors but is there a guiding line ?

I suppose in my music, I want to convey a kind of “prismatic” energy, a human and sonic energy that manifests itself it instrumental color and the physical act of playing instruments. I want the audience to see and feel the sound as it is being made by bodies onstage. The different colors and the sharp contrasts and changes in character in this piece should all serve to heighten this feeling of physical contact with the sound and the players. In the end, I want a listener to experience the “whole” of the piece as a dynamic sound event with its own sense of dramaturgy—the details are subsumed by the totality of the event.

– I already asked you who are the main composers that influenced you but I can’t hear them correctly in the recording (apart from Stravinsky), I am sorry.

Apart from Stravinsky I feel close to the music of Beat Furrer and Georges Aperghis because of their use of voice and instrumental theater, illuminating the inherent connection between music and drama. Also the music of György Ligeti, Bernhard Lang, Wolfgang Rihm, Simon Steen-Andersen, and Galina Ustvolakya for their music’s immediacy and unique poetic points-of-view.
– I also wanted to ask you what kind of compositions did you do in the past ? What are you looking for exactly in music?
The work that I have been producing in the last three years have been dealing with this sense of “physicality,” that is, what are the sonic and theatrical consequences of a “gesture?” A gesture can be a musical figure, it can be a quotation, even a whole section of music (à la “Parody Mass” of the 16th century), or it can be a body moving in the space. Using a gesture as the initial building blocks for pieces, I’ve explored what I’ve been calling the “erotics” or “sensuality” of form. What are the continuities between the disparate aspects of music which together, form the whole? How can we combine the constituents of music—physical performance, sound frequencies, time in different scales, space—to create an experience that transcends its parts? I’ve been exploring these questions in chamber music (“Crave,” “OPEN,” “Push (2)”), dance (“Schlachtfeld (a)”), and installation (“COMMUNICATION”).

– Finally, could we say that this is exactly contemporary music ? And how would you explain the name you gave to the piece : OPHELIA. Her heart is a clock ?

I think we can call this contemporary music insomuch as I am writing it “today” or at least, last summer :)
As for the title, it refers to a line in Heiner Müller’s “Die Hamletmaschine” which is a stage direction; it is, in fact, the first appearance of Ophelia in the play. I don’t want to go into an interpretation of Ophelia’s character in Müller’s or even Shakespeare’s plays but I thought that the image of the “heart” as a “clock” was arresting. Also, given its extra-musical allusions to mechanization, dehumanization, neo-liberal capitalism, and perhaps a deteriorization of the human as an individual, I think it is a robust metaphor that challenges my own aesthetics. I spoke of the transcendence of the particulars in favor of the whole—this complex is a political issue that has been faced by humanity for centuries, notably in the 20th century. In a way, the title of the piece not only illuminates the aesthetic opposition in the piece (“organic v. mechanical,” “dynamic v. fixed”) but it “problematizes” the entire enterprise of contemporary music and the tradition I am working in as a composer. And with life, there are no easy answers.

If you want to add something, you are free to do it.

Thank you in advance for your answers.
And one more time congratulations to you !

___________ .

Thank you ______ ! if you need clarification, just write. Thank you for your time.