Phrases sur le souffle, for ensemble, Op. 25 (1958/1968)
Amélia Salvetti, mezzo-soprano
Ensemble Polyphonique et Ensemble Instrumental de I’O.R.T.F.
Phrases sur le souffle, originally written for voice and piano, was composed in 1958 at the request of Clara Henius, who was also the first to sing the work. The score was reconstructed in 1968 under the influence of Charles Ravier for its performance at the Festival of Avignon. Here we encounter a complete transformation of this strange work that is more than a simple orchestration. The human voice, a «fragile, triumphant sound in which the force and intelligence of humanity are concentrated,» as Joseph Conrad has written, is presented as a field of investigations, each vowel being successively the object and the point of departure for studies in vocalization. This breath, carried by a simple yet carefully prepared voice, is as if caught at the birth of its human character, in order to be extended and multiplied in shattering reliefs and tones by the instrumental ensemble. This voice is finally magnified in the finale thanks to the choral support and by the superimposition of 5 vowels turning in a labyrinth of rhythms and timbres. –Bernard Bonaldi
Art by Jean-Léon Gérôme