© Christophe Berlet

"To be awake while the master sleeps". With these words, Gérard Pesson defines transcription. Chiselling irony and distance from the original, he breathes new life, not without melancholy, into the imaginary lands of Ravel, Scriabin and Mahler. Listening is modified, illusorily suspended by a memory that is both forgetful and creative.

Gérard Pesson's transcriptions of choruses of the living and the dead are exercises in admiration: Ravel, the "frail, mysterious, modest and grating" brother; Scriabin, whose incandescent, if not hallucinatory piano calls out to the words of Constantin Balmont or Ossip Mandelstam, with which Pesson sets his songs; Mahler, whose Adagietto of the Fifth Symphony is adorned with verses by August von Platen; in the Chants populaires, Philippe Beck's poems are derived analogously from the tales of the Brothers Grimm, perpetuating their sweet and cruel games; and even a work in premiere, a threne in homage to a friend who died too soon. Between these pieces for choir, in which Pesson intends to break with the immediate unctuousness, the sweet timbre of his voices, there are a few instrumental pieces that punctuate the concert: an unmeasured prelude for piano, in homage to the composer and harpsichordist Froberger; two short, bare pieces for cello, like an archipelago of sounds for the evening; and the Catch Sonata, transcribing not music, but the Fort-Da of the reel game described by Freud, the seizure of an idea that refuses itself, in silence, remoteness or the whiteness of erasure.


Gérard Pesson, Musica Ficta, extract Un tribut à Johann Jakob Froberger, for piano (right hand), with clarinet and cello
Maurice Ravel/Gérard Pesson, transcriptions for choir of Ronsard à son âme and Shéhérazade (La Flûte enchantée and L’Indifférent) 
Alexandre Scriabine/Gérard Pesson, transcriptions for choir of Preuve par la neige (Si j’étais lune, Quand la lune paraît, Ton image) 
Gérard Pesson, Trois Pièces brèves for cello, extracts (no. 1 and no. 2) 
Gérard Pesson, Chants populaires, extracts (La force de l’homme est le point ; Une peau est seule) 
Gérard Pesson, Catch Sonata, extracts (movements 1 and 2), for clarinet, cello and piano
Gérard Pesson, creation for voice, clarinet and choir 
Texts, Jean D’Amérique
Commissioning by Festival d’Automne à Paris
Gustav Mahler/Gérard Pesson, Kein deutscher Himmel, transcription for choir of Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony


Lise Baudouin, piano
Pablo Tognan, cello
Bogdan Sydorenko, clarinet
Chœur Les Métaboles 
Ensemble Multilatérale 
Léo Warynski, direction

Production Festival d’Automne à Paris
Thanks to Église Saint-Eustache