Piano solo

2008, new version 2015 


Cellules for solo piano is a work that focuses on the smallest musical building blocks and the different ways in which they may vary and develop. Three cells of three notes each, with their potential derivations, constitute the entire pitch material of the piece. Two contrasting movements highlight vastly different processes which arrive however, somewhat inexorably, to the exact same point. A brief coda interrogates the need to pursue the discourse further, by staging isolated fragments that voluntarily avoid the feeling of a conclusion.

By focusing on the minute, Cellules also investigates what happens to a note or chord after its attack, be it through resonance, the subtraction of specific pitches from a complex pedal or extreme variations in note durations. The title, which means “cells” in French, plays on the double meaning of the word and is not only a study of the musical element but also of the idea of constraint and limitation, something I experienced during serving time in prison for conscientious objection.

Cellules was premiered by Benjamin Kopp of Ensemble Contrechamps, featured in this recording; further performances include Luca Ieracitano (MDI), Trami Nguyen (Links), Johan Treichel and Cécile Tinguely.