Archipel's inaugural concertLive from Geneva

Concerts 23.04.2021

Dedicated to musical creation from all angles, the ten-day festival programme features installations, instrumental, electroacoustic and experimental music, performances, listening sessions, meetings and discussions. 

After our interview with Marie Jeanson and Denis Schuler yesterday, our report on the thirtieth edition of the Archipel festival continues ...

The inaugural concert on Friday evening, April 16, sets the tone with two astonishing orchestral pieces conducted by conductor Kanako Abe.

On the stage of the MCP-grande salle, two phalanxes came together, the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Haute École de Genève, alongside the first soloist of the evening, the Bulgarian violinist Rada Hadjikostova. Sicilian's Allegory of the Night Salvatore Sciarrino is not strictly speaking a concerto, even though it begins very abruptly with quotations from Felix Mendelssohn's famous violin concerto in E minor, which has been put through the distorting filter of memory. Mendelssohn's music is very quickly dissolved, flattened and unrecognizable, the violinist immobilizing her gesture on a note held in the high register, while from the almost silent orchestra we hear some noisy manifestations of a nocturnal landscape with rustling wings and birdsong (bisbigliandi of the winds): recycled music, we would say, and ecological listening advocated by our composer. Also strange is this "bird cadenza" of the soloist, between humour and poetry, played in the extreme high harmonics of the instrument, just before the return in force of the instrumental and noisy salvos of the concerto to conclude the piece. The theatrical approach is well assumed by our musicians, led by Kanako Abe's very concentrated gesture. Here, at 1h54mn:

The second piece by the London-based Canadian Cassandra Miller takes us further away from traditional forms, inviting to the front of the stage (but filmed from behind!) the American cellist Charles Curtis, who is a fan of experimental music and all kinds of performances, and who will return during the festival, alone with his cello for two recitals. Duet for cello and large orchestra (winds in threes) is a conceptual work - one thinks of the brilliant Ives - playing on the superposition of instrumental layers evolving in autonomous temporalities and sound contexts. The cellist's is the slowest and simplest - an unchanging and very Zen-like swaying of a few notes - while the colourful horns trumpet a popular (Neapolitan) melody when the divided strings add one and then two layers of sound in a very jubilant amplification movement. The noisy maelstrom makes our soloist capitulate. He will play again, however, but in a context where the roles have been reversed (it is the orchestra that swings) and where he can finally shine in a kind of more voluble "cadenza"! The time sometimes seems to stretch out but the process works until the final blow.
Charles Curtis is exemplary (he has seen others!) and the orchestra is very committed to this risky adventure in which Kanako Abe is surely in charge. 

"The screen will always be a screen", let's not fool ourselves, but the music is there, transmitted in good listening conditions despite some disturbances on the site due to occasional interferences.

Michèle Tosi