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MuCH Music 30.01.18

Series Guest

Trio Metral & M. Petrossian

New composition

30.01.18 - 20:15


Trio Metral

Justine Metral, cello
Joseph Metral, violin
Victor Metral, piano

M. Petrossian (b. 1973)
A Fiery Flame, a Flaming Fire (2016)

F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Piano trio No. 1 in D minor, op. 49

J. Haydn
Piano Trio No. 43 in C major, Hob. XV:27

Introduction au concert par le compositeur Michel Petrossian

La Chapelle Musicale est heureuse d’inviter Michel Petrossian pour présenter son trio “A fiery Flame” qu’il a composé en 2016, interprété par un trio en résidence à la Chapelle Musicale, le Trio Metral, après un travail sur mesure avec le compositeur lors d’une masterclass à la Chapelle. Le Trio Metral complète le programme de deux classiques du répertoire de trio à clavier. Une soirée découverte!

De Muziekkapel nodigt met genoegen Michel Petrossian uit om zijn trio ‘A fiery Flame’ voor te stellen, dat hij in 2016 heeft gecomponeerd en dat wordt vertolkt door een trio in residentie bij de Muziekkapel, het Trio Metral, ter afsluiting van een masterclass met de componist in de Kapel. Het Trio Metral beëindigt het programma met twee klassiekers uit het pianotriorepertoire. Een avond die leidt tot ontdekkingen!

Quelques notes sur “A fiery Flame”

“A fiery flame, a flaming fire” revolves around two issues: the identity and the threshold.

The question of identity seems a crucial one in our globalized and interconnected world. Imagine a person born in the USA from a Russian secular Jewish father and a Zoroastrian Persian mother, raised in Paris, converted to Protestantism and working in China…. What is his/her identity? Which aspects prevail that make him/her belong to one or another community, which characters connote him/her as such?
Different thresholds allow to interpret such internal characters, and thus the identity of the person is changing, sometimes radically, according to the time and space where he/she is living. This issue can be explored further by considering the identity from the point of view of the person himself/herself, and his identity as perceived from the outside.
These questions are addressed by French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf in his essay “In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong” who investigates the tensions between some paradoxical aspects of a complex identity.
I was intrigued to consider these matters in the musical realm, being myself Armenian by birth, Russian by education, French by culture, Hierosolymitan by spirit …As the musical piece evolves, I like the idea of observing how its identity is built around some identifiable elements, and how these elements, although they remain always recognizable, evolve and modify profoundly the initial identity of the piece.
Every movement of this rather contrasted work presents some challenges of its own, the main one, besides the very demanding technical aspects, being to maintain those sometimes very different parts together, to make sense of the changes of mood and character, keeping the surprise as an element of advancement of the action. Yet all of the aspects are powerfully united by the omnipresence of one melody – an old traditional Armenian song “Kars” brought to light by the jazzman Tigran Hamasyan.

I was haunted by this melody when I was asked to write a very small piece for a concert held in La Fenice, Venice (Italy). The musical seeds of this work didn’t feel themselves comfortable in such confined space – they rather wanted to blossom towards some larger form. Other melodic motives and ideas and particular musical textures came to interact with this melody in my head, and to fertilize it in a really unanticipated way. The metamorphosis of the initial melody was what lead me to reason upon the identity and threshold issues.

I’ve suggested to musicians who play it – and I invite the audience too – to think of this piece in terms of a miniature opera or a one-act drama, where the musicians themselves are involved as dramatis personae. This doesn’t mean that we are assisting to a representation of musical theater; rather, the feeling is procured purely by musical means. But in my own imagination all those musical leitmotifs, different variations of the same musical ideas, harmonic or timbral atmospheres, smooth rendezvous of instruments or brusque departures from each other, folkloric reminiscences where the flowing of notes seems easily guessed, whereas it appears in an unexpected place and at an unpredictable moment, thus shedding new light on the meaning of the musical material and coloring differently the whole musical texture – all of this can be perceived as different facets of a play.
The musicians have to free their imagination, use their own mental images and perceptions and really play with all their senses, as if in search of a lost melody or browsing through the pages of Marcel Proust’s In Search Of Lost Time.

The title itself refers to the passage of the burning bush in Exodus 3.2. Two main Greek manuscripts differ in detail for the same Hebraic expression: the Angel of God appears in a fiery flame (Codex Alexandrinus) or in a flaming fire (Codex Vaticanus). The translation reveals two aspects of the one reality, it shows the moving identity even of such thing as a fixed sacred text, and this reference to Moses in the context of a paradoxical apparition of God is my homage to Movses Pogossian who took the initiative of this commission and very kindly let my musical ideas grow to some extent…


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