Route Principale 160, CH-1791 Courtaman (Switzerland),
tel. + fax: (+41) 26/684.18.65, E-mail : laurent.mettraux(at)bluewin.ch
for soloists, choir and instrumental ensemble, M.625 (2001-2)
Marc Jaermann, cello ;
François Margot and Jean-Claude Charrez, pianos ;
Trio Adamas (Stéphane Borel, Romain Kuonen and Nicolas Suter)
and Oleskiy Volynets, Thierry Besançon, Peter Baumann, percussion ;
Instrumental ensemble, conducted by Pascal Mayer
Broadcasted by the Radio Suisse Romande Espace 2
This oratorio has been commissioned by the National Swiss Exposition of 2002 (Expo.02). The first performance has taken place in the Tente Centenaire of the Morat Arteplage, on October 5th and 6th, 2002. The broadcasting is taken from the concert of October 6th, 2002.
Duration of the work : approximately 48’
Rilke has written :
« If one sings in honour of a god,
This god pays him back with his silence.
None of us moves forward
But towards a silent god. »
This silent divinity, of which we neither know the form, nor the real name, has constituted a mystery for the believers of all civilisations that have populated or still populate our planet. “No one knows his face” – “ Your name, who may utter it?” – “We know nothing about who you are” – are sentences we find as well in the African animist prayers as in the Hindu hymns, in the Sufi poetry as in the Rhenish mystic, the ancient Greece or the contemporary society.
By choosing some of the most beautiful texts (hymnic, poetical, prosaic or metaphorical) which deal with the theme of the hidden God, I wanted to call to mind this mystery and the different human attitudes towards it, between fear and confidence, anguish and appeasement, faith and doubt. In order to do this, I have summarized, welded or rewritten texts of several cultures and of different epochs, adding to it, if necessary, glosses an transitions in order to keep the logic of the libretto. I have, of course, been attentive not to betray the thought of the authors to whom I’ve referred to. The libretto bases itself on the following principal texts : hymns by the mythical Hindu king Pushpadanta, of the neoplatonician philosopher Proclos and of Gregoire de Naziance; fragments of Inca prayers, of a poem by the Greek author Synesios, elected as a bishop against his will, or by the Marathi Toukaram, mystic and illiterate, by Guillaume de Saint-Thierry, companion of Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, or Amenemonet, scribe and archivist of the Ramesside period; aphorisms taken from the “Cherubinischer Wandersmann” (“The cherubic pilgrim”) by Angelus Silesius; poems by the Persian Hallaj, by the Andalusian Ibn al-‘Arabî, and the German Rilke; and finally, the libretto ends with an excerpt from the famous “Tao Te King”, commonly attributed to Lao Tseu.
The work, which lasts about 48 minutes, is written for 4 vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and bass), choir, solo cello, percussion (6 instrumentalists playing around 20 instruments) and 2 pianos.
The instrumentation, on the one hand, ascetically reduced in order to fit more to the internalization of the subject, can diffract itself, thanks to the nearly infinite variety of sonorous colours of the percussion, and build a musical world made of as many fine subtleties as of more dynamical elements, in suggesting or reflecting the different states of mind of the libretto. Both pianos do not content themselves with doubling the choral parts or with accompanying the soloists, in order to provide for a stability of intonation that could be threatened by the percussion of indefinite pitch, but, through the interaction of the ambitus among others, shall complete the variety of the colours, by producing additionally shadow and clearness. At last, the cello, soloist like the vocal soloists, binds the instrumental ensemble and the vocal parts.