Les Météores - Karol Beffa
For guitar quartet
Commissioned work by quatuor Eclisses
CD "Pulse" available on Advitam Records
To compose for a guitar quartet is a challenge for a non-guitarist. On two previous occasions I have been tested in this respect, first with Concerto for Guitar and Strings (2010) then with Le Miroir des Heures (2014) for solo guitar. But I am grateful to the Quatuor Eclisses, who commissioned this work and to whom it is dedicated, for the many hours they have spent helping me to enlarge my understanding of the techniques and abilities of the guitar.
The title of the quartet contains several references. “Météore” comes from the Greek word meteôros, "lifted to the sky", from which the famous Météores monasteries, perched high on rocky cliffs, derive their name. Descartes' 1637 work Les météores gives the first scientific explanation of rainbows, while we must not forget the novel of the same name, (translated in English as Gemini) by Michel Tournier about the surprising mysteries of identical twins.
I wanted each of the quartet's three movements to be able to stand alone. The central part of the first movement is based on a canon which becomes increasingly concentrated, like the inexorable progression of a sea swell. This frames brief sequences recalling Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint. The guitars play lines, mixed with harsh harmonies, woven like an undulating, shifting web; these lines subside but gradually, however, rise, giving an illusion of infinity. The second movement is a kaleidoscope of irregular bars, tonal contrasts and swaying, Andean rhythms. As for the third, the writing is simplified, reminiscent of a Tex Avery cartoon. Openly inspired by some modern music, the theme brings a dynamic element, direct, mobile, written in the Apollonian diatonic, opposed to the Dionysian complexity of the first movement.
Karol Beffa, July 2016
Duration : 11'
For guitar quartet