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Michael Jarrell (né en 1958)
…some leaves II… (1998)

Michael Jarrell is an excellent draughtsman who, when he’s on his own, loves making small sketches on the corner of a sheet. Tough a quality little known about someone who obviously is a composer before all, it still appears to me quite appropriate to evoke his piece for solo viola. Curves, colours, the sharpest chiaroscuros and the pictorial dimension is particularly present in the project of the piece and its realization. For all that, this is not a contemplative work, and music, an art of time first of all, uses all the dynamic possibilities here, where energy is present from the very start.

Particularly concerned with the continuity in the listening, Jarrell polishes the musical phrase as a writer would do with language, being careful both to the great curve and small inflections. The form in his work is tending towards equilibrium, an equilibrium all the more precious as it is always unstable, even frail sometimes.

Moreover, let’s stress on the importance in this work of the instrumental counterpoint, which is the capacity to turn an instrument meant for monody such as the viola, into an instrument able to be permanently in a dialectic relationship with the musical discourse. The counterpoint indeed is not only polyphonic, as can be expected from a keyboard, but a real instrumental counterpoint: for instance, it is the use of a pivot note, a fixed point typical figures (scales, chords, tremolos) are attracted by or repulsed from, as this famous “D” open string, present all through the beginning; it can also be the opposition from one register to another, as those very rapid and piano figures in the high notes, such as an undefined-shape cloud of notes, to which a tremolo gives a floor-rooting answer in the lowest range.

Keeping on collaborating with Michael Jarrell, …some leaves II… gave birth in 2000 to …more leaves… for viola, electronics and five instruments, a sort of Berio-like “Chemins”, or rather a “double Chemins” since the solo part is doubly enlightened here, by the electronics on the one part, and by the other five instruments on the other, becoming thus a miniature orchestra.

Christophe Desjardins