Commission issued to Tristan Murail: Reflections / Reflets IV

Gstaad Menuhin Festival & Academy AG, Saanen, Switzerland

True to the spirit and memory of its founding father Yehudi Menuhin, the Gstaad Menuhin Festival has been celebrating music of all shades and all eras since 1957, tracing an arc from the past into the future. At least one composition commission is awarded annually. In 2019 this goes to Tristan Murail – a composer who could not fit better with this year's festival motto Paris. Murail is closely associated with the city of Paris, since he not only studied there under Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory, but also spent many years in the city later on conducting groundbreaking research in the field of live electronics with the founding of the Ensemble L'Itineraire. In his composition, Murail succeeds in establishing references to the alpine festival site as a side effect – for this he remembered an event many years ago – flying over the Alps:

"One of my first orchestral works was entitled Altitude 8000. I was lucky enough one winter's morning to fly over the Alps on the way from Paris to Nice and was fascinated by the spectacle of the snow-capped mountains, tinged pink in the morning sun. The gentle movement of the aircraft contrasted with the rugged and jagged peaks. I let these impressions flow into the musical textures of Altitude 8000 (8000 here referring to the altitude of the plane). Altitude 8000 is the somewhat awkward piece written by a music composition student­... But now I would like to revisit this topic and try and celebrate the appearance of glaciers and eternal snow once again. Unfortunately, since the time when Altitude 8000 was written, the snow and glaciers have started to melt... I am thinking here, for instance, of the La Meije glacier (which Messiaen so loved and which I often admired). It has already receded a few hundred meters and we now can see its former traces between the rocks. So, these are the ideas and images I want to discover for my new piece: wide open spaces, luminosity of peaks, but contrasted with thawing and collapse."


September 1, 2019

Festival Marquee, Gstaad


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