For alto saxophone and ensemble [alto-fl., ob., db-cl., cbsn., hn., trb., 2 perc., piano, 2 va., 2 vc., db.] – 12'30"
Premiere (recording): Jesús Reneses (alto sax.) and musicians from CNSM of Paris. Guillaume Bourgogne (cond.). Paris Conservatory CNSMDP, March 2021
As a mass of oil which cover an ample canvas, moved by a large squeegee on the whole heigh of the stretcher frame, Abstract painting –for saxophone and ensemble– tries to reflect, not in a narrative or sequential way, but as a kind of apprehension of the musical matter, the displacement of the mass of paint on the canvas, the form that this mass takes along its evolution and the accidents which parasitize its advance.
The previously explained action is inspired by the works of the German painter Gerhard Richter (1932), who describes his technique in this way:
«With a brush you have control. The paint goes on the brush and you make the mark. From experience you know exactly what will happen. With the squeegee you lose control.
Not all control, but some control. It depends on the angle, the pressure and the particular paint I am using.»
As in painting than in music –as well as other artistic forms–, notions of matter, of velocity, of point of view or even of pressure and lightness play an important role, sometimes leader of the discourse. In Abstract painting the saxophone takes a particular role: on the one hand, its quality as soloist detach itself from the rest of the ensemble by a very energetic and virtuous technique, with instrumental gestures both extremes and of a high precision. On the other hand, it makes emanate the music of the ensemble –we could establish an analogy between the soloist and the Richter's squeegee–, directing the audience from blurry, dusty moments, towards others of a very exacerbated density or of an almost aggressive pulse.
That's how the notions of velocity, perspective, pressure or volume take shape: through an instrumental energy that sculpt the profile and the temporality of the piece, giving room to a music that advances on a linear way without moving back, to a kind of energy triggered, precipitate and –however– contradicted by the principle of the reiteration, even the pure repetition.
Abstract painting is the title that Richter gives to a several number of his pictorial works.
Manuel Hidalgo Navas
Abstract painting (Abstraktes Bild)
Gerhard Richter (1992). Oil on aluminum sheet, private collection