Speaking at Length About Ghosts

… Parler longuement de Fantômes …

For 250 years, composers find an intimacy and clean austerity in the writings for string quartets that allows them to create the most daring works. The program for this concert is a beautiful illustration of this.

The Op.95 Quartet of Beethoven is a short work of extreme richness. Often considered a “transitional” piece in the 15-quartet cycle, it starts to germinate all the elements of the last great opuses. The subtitle “Serioso” can be interpreted as descriptive of the general climate of the work: austere and rebellious. The composer’s famous stormy and tormentuous portraits immediately come to the public’s mind.

Nevertheless we can understand it as the affirmation of a new way of composing that moves through all possible transformations through which music is developed in and raw manner. In this sense, it foretells what numerous 20th century composers have done, for whom musical dialectic moved through the technical development of a strong idea.

Bartok is frequently considered the continuation of Beethoven through his respective quartets. The sounds are completely different, but the writing has the same beautiful intransigence.

This attention to form emerging from the development of a small cell is pushed to the extreme in this 5th quartet: one of the artistic peaks of the Hungarian master. We can certainly find the liveliness and authenticity of current Hungarian music, but refined and stylized. This “logic” produced by the material itself, this “structuralism” doesn’t belong solely to Bartok. It draws from ancestral sources to find the catalyst of its modernity.

To us, it seems that the best homage to give to these two giants of the past is to make their works talk with those of a young creator of our time.

The music of Jérôme Combier is refined, discrete and sensual. This contrasts with sharp clarity of his two predecessors. Working sound in its poetic dimension, he offers a nearly Asiatic spirituality to introspective works where the microtonality loses the listener’s ear in order to invite them to abandon themselves before reconstructing a sonic world that’s personal to each listener.


Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN Serioso, quatuor à cordes no. 11 en fa mineur, op. 95 (1810)
Jérôme COMBIER Parler longuement de Fantômes (2014) *
Béla BARTOK Quatuor no. 5 (1939)



Thursday, July 10th, 2014
Art Lyrique Festival in Aix-en-Provence


* Commande de musique nouvelle en liberté – Ville de Paris