Musical Category Chamber music (+ than 8 instruments)
Instrumentation (general) Instrumental Ensemble
Peter Eötvös (conductor)
Venue Queen Elizabeth Hall
Country United Kingdom
From a linguistic point of view, the word “paraphrase” means a second reading, the interpretation of a text, with the intention of elucidating it or commenting on it, which often implies the development of the original ideas. The content of the initial text undergoes critical analysis and the paraphrase, however constrained or extravagant, amplifies its substance and transliterates it in the light of a certain point of view – which may be latent in the original, or may present a completely unexpected interpretation.
I believe that in Paraphrase [Densités II] I have managed to touch on the majority of the possibilities of paraphrase in relation to the initial piece, Densités, written in 2005 for the Festival of Witten where it was given its first performance by the Ensemble InterContemporain in April of that year. The piece was dedicated to Pierre Boulez for his eightieth birthday.
Not all aspects of the original “text” have been paraphrased in this second piece and, naturally, many aspects of Paraphrase are new, or else appeared in Densités in a merely embryonic form or only implicitly. The decision to ignore certain aspects of the initial text, led sometimes to their simple omission from the paraphrase, and sometimes to their direct transcription, with no explanation or development. But a large part of Densités was rewritten, expanding the immediate sense of the music, adding commentaries and greater or smaller parentheses and footnotes. Paradoxically, the formal layout became clearer in this second piece, with two more or less complementary parts, the first of which explores ensemble writing while the second centres on a solo trumpet line constantly commented on by the piano which becomes a secondary solo instrument. These two sections are divided by an intermediary moment with an extended virtuoso piano solo.
It is interesting to note how the idea of paraphrase is already contained within the original piece. In its final sections, the solo trumpet line is constructed as a self-explanatory melody whose development increasingly adds more notes in between the five initial notes, that then become thirteen, then twenty-one, always returning to the beginning and increasingly amplifying the line – interpretation upon interpretation…. Every now and then this solo is paraphrased by means of commentaries or developments on the piano that functions as a kind of shadow. And the first section of the work is no more than a note-by-note interpretation of the melodic lines of the final trumpet solo, transforming the intervals into durations, extending and proliferating the progression from one note to the next in time, harmonic field and timbre.
In this way, to use a title reminiscent of Borges, and without hiding a certain irony in the extravagance of the process involved, Densités II could be called Paraphrase on a paraphrase. This would sum up the substance of its creation without giving away any of its content.