Liner Notes

Tempest, Jeu de cartes, L’argent, TanGRAM

John Rea’s Tempest was written in the 1960s, when the composer used toplay in an improv group while studying with Ruth Shaw Wylie. Drawn onto two music sheets and scored for an indeterminate quartet and one snare drum,the original composition lasted only two minutes. His score uses drawings andgame instructions that are very precise and evocative. I later adapted the scorefor 20 musicians (four musicians per instrument family and tonal range for a total of 16 musicians, plus two snare drums, a turntable and a synthesizer). In this extended version, the tempest unfolds in a much slower way.

Jeu de cartes was scored by Malcolm Goldstein for 12 improvisers. The score consists of 48 cards divided into four series. The first three series illustrate what has to be played: graphic notations, rhythmic cells, words. The last one determines when each player is asked to play. This very brilliant game piece allows for great flexibility and inventiveness to each player. The version included in this album was played using two decks of cards and features 24 performers, 20 instrumentalists and four vocalists.

Jean Derome’s L’argent is made-up of three parts, each makes reference to one of three different forms of social structure. L’Empereur (0’00) is conducted by a sole conductor (Derome) using an elaborate set of handgestures; L’anarchie (5’44) sees the players fending for themselves, with neither conductor nor instructions; La libre entreprise (8’23) allows everyone to become an entrepreneur by starting his or her own business (i.e. by giving his or her fellow musicians specific instructions to be carried out) and tolerates the simultaneous presence of more than one conductor. Drawing its inspiration from writings about money by Bernard Maris, Georges Bataille and Joseph Beuys, L’argent transforms the orchestra into a microcosm of our society.

TanGRAM is based on the ancient Chinese puzzle of the same name.The objective of the puzzle is to form a specific shape using all of its seven flat pieces (five triangles, a square and a parallelogram). The creation of a score and a “musical figure” using these shapes allowed me to explore indepth what each of the figures could evoke once laid out on a music sheet. I then specified to the musicians the register, the dynamics, the flow of the rhythm, the thickness of the sound mass and the instrumentation. It is a game of transformation that requires patience and strategy. Here, the EnsembleSuperMusique is playing Orion, one of the “musical figures” I created.