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OMBRE (Shadow)



for orchestra (1995/8)



After a story by Edgar Poe



This work won 1998 the prize of the Donaueschinger Musiktage, awarded for the first time.

First performance by the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden-Freiburg,

conducted by Sylvain Cambreling, Donaueschingen, 17.10.1999.




Argument :


The black wings of the Pest have spread, while feelings more intense than terror, consequence of ill-fated conjunctions, prowl about in the spirits.


Oinos and six companions have shut themselves up in a room surrounded by black draperies. Before the brazen doorway lies the corpse of young Zoilus, the eyes upon Oinos. In the heavy, suffocating, agonizing atmosphere, enlightened by the pale and motionless flames of seven iron lamps, the guests contemplate the paleness of their faces being reflected in the table of ebony. Hysterical laughs, songs of Anacreon attempt to drive away the mortal weight which spreads on them and on the objects surrounding them.


From the black draperies rises an indefinite shadow, which settles, motionless and straight, on the surface of the brazen doorway. The seven companions, looking into the depths of the table of ebony, don’t dare to look at it. At last, Oinos decides to ask the shadow about its dwelling and its name.


“I am SHADOW, and my dwelling is near to the Catacombs of Ptolemais, and hard by those dim infernal plains which border upon the foul Charonian canal”, it says to the guests who start from their seats in horror. For the voice of the shadow was that of a multitude of beings, with familiar accents of many thousand departed friends.


Laurent Mettraux, after Edgar Poe