Program

Human Non-Human

A Prayer for the Endangered

Human Non-Human

The cello, acts as a mediator between the ensemble and the deep-sea sounds... and the results are strikingly beautiful, sometimes discomforting, and in the end profoundly elegiac.

The Guardian, 2018

Nature has been the inspiration of composers for centuries. Now, through the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, the virtuosi musicians of Ensemble Variances continue the narrative, providing an aural and contemplative awakening to the vital environmental issues of our time.

Artistic Director Thierry Pécou has devised two distinctive programs to highlight the virtuosic artistry of Ensemble Variances’ musicians – spiritually uplifting programs that stimulate our appreciation of nature’s lessons, urging audiences through the power of music to take note of the changes to our planet and to our friends in the animal kingdom.

The two programs pair music by Russian spiritualist Alfred Schnittke, French impressionists Ravel and Debussy with the contemporary sounds of Thierry Pécou, François-Bernard Mâche, and Pulitzer prize-winning US composer John Luther Adams.

A highlight of the programs includes Thierry Pécou’s Méditation sur la fin de l’espèce (A Prayer for the Endangered). The twenty-minute bravura work – scored for solo cello, processed whale songs, and the ensemble – has been critically acclaimed and appreciated by audiences at Wigmore Hall, Radio France, and Gaudeaumus Muziekweek (Netherlands). Pécou was inspired to write the work while a whale-watching trip to Northern Canada. Fascinated by the highly expressive songs of the sea mammals, Pécou’s recordings of the Canadian whale songs enter dialogues with the soloist, and the ensemble. “My composition asks if there is any distinction between humans and non-humans.“ Ensemble cellist David Louwerse performs the solo.  

This programme presents the premiere of François-Bernard Mâche’s Vigiles for flute, clarinet, piano, synthesizer and guitar. Born in 1935, Mâche is considered one of the most important musical figures in France today. As the outstanding student of Olivier Messiaen the composer and musicologist finds inspiration from bird songs and the myths of Ancient Greece, Sumeria and the Maya.
The compositions of American composer John Luther Adams provide the perfect antiphon to the French works on the programs. Three High Places for solo violin, performed by Liana Gourdjia offers a work of incandescence.

All composers in the program are committed naturalists. Audiences will be reminded of the global musical brotherhood of composers who seek to move audience through their reflections on nature, the environment and our relationship.

Extract from a concert

Program

Thierry Pécou

Méditation sur la fin de l’espèce for solo cello, processed whale songs and ensemble (North-American Premiere, Commissioned by Radio France and Wigmore Hall) 

François-Bernard Mâche

Vigiles for flute, clarinet, piano, synthesizer and guitar (Premiere, Commissioned by Ensemble Variances)

Stevie Wishart

Gardez la distance for flute, clarinet and piano (Premiere, Commissioned by Ensemble Variances)

Program, USA Tour

Option 1

Alfred Schnittke

Hymne for cello and double bass

François-Bernard Mâche

Vigiles for flute, clarinet, piano, synthesizer and guitar (Premiere, Commissioned by Ensemble Variances)

John Luther Adams

Three High Places for solo violin

Jeffrey Holmes

Kaun (Kenaz) for flute, clarinet, guitar, vioin, cello and double bass (World Premiere) 

Thierry Pécou

Méditation sur la fin de l’espèce for solo cello, processed whale songs and ensemble (North-American Premiere, Commissioned by Radio France and Wigmore Hall) 

Option 2

Alfred Schnittke

Hymne for cello and double bass

Maurice Ravel

Sonate for violin and piano

François-Bernard Mâche

Vigiles for flute, clarinet, piano, synthesizer and guitar (Premiere, Commissioned by Ensemble Variances)

Claude Debussy

Rapsodie for clarinet and piano

Thierry Pécou

Méditation sur la fin de l’espèce for solo cello, processed whale songs and ensemble (North-American Premiere, Commissioned by Radio France and Wigmore Hall) 

Performers

Anne Cartel flute
Carjez Gerretsen clarinet
Liana Gourdjia violin
David Louwerse cello
Benedict Ziervogel double bass
Marie Vermeulin piano
Pierre Bibault guitare and electronics (pre-recorded sequences)
Thierry Pécou musical director and piano