Route Principale 160, CH-1791 Courtaman (Switzerland),
tel. + fax: (+41) 26/684.18.65, E-mail : laurent.mettraux(at)bluewin.ch
for choir and orchestra, M.672 (2009)
This work is a commission by the Gewandhaus Leipzig. The first performance has taken place in June 2010 during the Leipzig Bachfest and the concert season of the Gewandhaus. The performers were the GewandhausChor and the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig directed by Riccardo Chailly.
Duration of the work : approximately 15’
This work is a commission by the Gewandhaus Leipzig. The first performance has taken place in June 2010 during the Bachfest Leipzig and the concert season of the Gewandhaus. The performers were the GewandhausChor and the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig directed by Riccardo Chailly.
The Choral Variations on the Christmas Carol « Vom Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her » have been written in 2009 as a commission by the Gewandhaus Leipzig. It is an homage to Bach and his Canonic Variations for organ, written on the same theme. My work, unlike the variations by Bach, has been conceived as a whole, with uninterrupted variations, often intermingled. On the other hand, and alike other works by Bach, my variations maintain from the beginning to the end the same time signature and a unique tempo (though inside the work, calm moments alternate with more agitated or tensed moments).
These variations are based on two themes, the first, chromatic one, always changing, played straightaway by the harp, containing the transposed motif of the musical signature B-A-C-H. The second theme is, of course, the choral itself. Both themes are treated, either by evolving modification (especially for the first one), or in canonic manner (especially for the second one). The work is as well contrapuntal and lyrical, fluctuating between anguished expectation and confident hope in the divine coming.
The different, numerous canons, sometimes superimposing and overlapping one another, present the themes, their fragments or their modifications, either in the original form, or inverse, retrograde or retrograde-inverse, in augmentation or diminution, or as mensuration canon. Moreover, the choral appears several times as cantus firmus.
The score is written for the same instruments as in Stravinsky’s Chorale Variations, that is to say a mixed choir (4 voices) and an orchestra without clarinets, horns, tuba, percussion, violins and cellos. The passages for choir and orchestra, on a few verses of the text by Luther, alternate with those written for orchestra only.
March 22nd, 2010