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The music of Laurent Mettraux : summary of a stylistic


by Erwin Messmer



The music of Laurent Mettraux expresses itself in a language unused until now. Nevertheless, it cannot be considered as revolutionary or innovative in the sense which the Avant-garde gives to these terms. It drives its inspiration conscientiously from the tradition, as well as what concerns harmony as what concerns the formal construction. The principal materials of Mettraux’ harmony are tonal elements. But these are bound to an extremely expressive polytonality and to a very varied rhythmical structure, near to that of Messiaen. The whole forms a very personal musical language, which one cannot confuse with another. It is a music which manages to do the splits between the romantic spirit, mainly post-franckist, and an astonishing modernity, in a way that seems completely natural. This music is marked with a deep gravity and a profound meditative spirit […]. This explains the usually slow tempo, which is an outstanding characteristic of Mettraux’ music.



Laurent Mettraux : Maundy Thursday and Easter, from the cycle “Lux mundi” (Light of the world)



The music for Maundy Thursday, inspired by the French form of the Communion, is an extremely slow music, very ethereal though at the same time fluid, thanks to a varied rhythmical disposition. At the midst of this tone aquarelle appears at the pedal, as the bass theme, the Gregorian motif Ubi caritas (Where charity is).


With the final movement of the cycle, Easter, conceived in the spirit of a sortie, rises, after the evening, the morning : Easter arrives, and with it eternal Resurrection. This movement has something ineluctable and somewhat violent. One hears really the tomb stone of Jesus being rolled. Directly after the chordal introduction sounds the Easter theme Victimae pascali laudes / Christ lag in Todesbanden.


Laurent Mettraux inscribes following quotations for both of his movements, taken from the first chapter of the Gospel of John : "Tout a en Lui sa genèse, rien n’a de genèse en dehors de Lui. – All things were made by him ; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (Maundy Thursday) and "En Lui est la vie, et la vie est la lumière des hommes.  – In him was life ; and the life was the light of men“ (Easter) .


The cycle "Lux Mundi" has been first performed during the European Music Month of 2001.


Erwin Messmer