— The younger generation to which you belong has developed a keen interest in the vocal repertoire. Your catalogue already includes several vocal works and you are about to create a new one for the Ensemble Musicatreize. Could you explain to us what, in your case, has led you to develop such an interest in singing?
As a composer and amateur, I have always been very interested in all things related to the expressive side of music, which is, I believe, its freest and liveliest aspect side and, ultimately, its most human. It is obvious that there is no instrument more human than the voice, an instrument intimately linked to our own selves. I am specifically interested in the sung voice and, more precisely (due to my love - that is to say, my interest and respect - for Franco-Flemish polyphony) by multiple sung voices, the ensemble of voices.
— You have chosen to set to music a text by a "contemporary" of Beethoven, his elder by several decades, but not just any contemporary, Goethe. Why? What qualities of the second Wanderer Nachtlied spoke to you?
As I mentioned the human aspect of music, it’s precisely this aspect that interests me in poetry and any other form of art. Goethe's figure and work are, in this sense, exemplary and paradigmatic. In addition, in this little nocturnal poem, he makes reference to the great theme of the place of mankind in the face of nature, an essential position that we, in our modern lifetyle, often forget and neglect in a way that is, I think, very irresponsible. Schubert’s song, one of the composers who touches me the most, also uses this poem and so does Liszt’s version (so austere, so moving, so intelligent) which has long fascinated me.
— What role does the famous Bagatelle, known as the "Letter to Elise", play in the overall form of the work? How do you treat it?
My piece is structured around an "A". It is from an initial and solitary "A" that a whole slow polyphony for 8 voices unfolds. The first six notes of Beethoven's famous bagatelle are heard, played together as a chord, when the poem refers to the birds right in the middle of the structure. After a climax, everything closes in little by little on the "A", in the same way as Beethoven’s work. In short, my work is a sort of arch that uses its central section to sound in harmony the masterful notes from Bonn.
— Could you tell us about your project for the Ensemble Intercontemporain. Where are you in the writing stage of this project? What is it like working with the plastic artist Julie Beauvais? What is the projected timeline for this project?
It is not yet a public project and for this reason I cannot talk too much about it. But it's a grand project that we've been considering for several years and I'm about to write the first note of the score. If all goes well it will see the light in the first months of the 21/22 season...