A Thing of Beauty - Olivier Calmel
For clarinet, french horn and piano
A Thing of Beauty is a piece for B flat clarinet, horn in F and piano - Commissioned by the Call Of Beauty Trio.
It is inspired by the work of the poet John Keats (1795-1821), in particular by his 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' (1819).
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
— that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know'
These are the words with which John Keats finishes his famous poem 'Ode on a Grecian Urn', part of the cycle of Odes he wrote in 1819, known as 'Keats's Odes', and considered as one of the greatest poems in the English language. Keats' love of classical art and his spectacular imagination were fundamental in the creation of this magnificent poetic work.
It questions the possibility of the Greek urn as a human artistic construction, that is, capable of relating to the idea of 'truth'. The images of the urn described in the poem are conceived as evidence of creative activities: a nuptial parade, a musical creation, religious rites. These last lines encourage the reader to interact with the poem in an interrogative fashion, like the narrator, and to encourage the narrator to ask questions; the silence of the urn allows one's imagination to wander. It is through this silence that true beauty is made possible, and it is precisely this which inspired me for this work.
Written as one single piece, 'A Thing of Beauty' was conceived as the musical reflection of the Ode's final monologue, and based upon a theme in choral form, intentionally 'calm and collected', which represents the call of truth and of beauty; the first appearance is presented as a distant echo of itself 'in the resonance of the piano'. A purposefully devilish Vivace follows, and exposes a complementary theme representing movement, the act of going forwards and advancing gladly. This quick movement, whose rhythmic vitality is essential, continues to develop with joy and lightness, using all the power of its growing desire, until it finally comes together to be one with the call that it initially created.