La Chute Du Rogue by the late French contemporary composer Christophe Bertrand is a superbly colorful work for clarinet, vibraphone, piano, and cello. Bertrand has one of the most unique voices in writing I have heard in a while. The work is dedicated to his teacher Ivan Fedele, one of the recent greats of Italian composition, but he seems to take cues from both the French and Italian schools of composition to create his own distinctive approach to writing. Unlike those pieces that make their source of inspiration very obvious (intentionally or not), Bertrand’s ability to reference other writers with great finesse allows his music to come across as fresh even fourteen years after it was written. In essence, to me it sounds like Bertrand has such a strong voice because he is able to make his influences come across as subtly as possible in the music. It is very sad that he took his own life because he clearly had so much to offer to the world of music.
I really enjoy the pacing of the music in this piece. The whole first minute of La Chute du Rogue is just a solo cello that steadily increases the height of its intonation oscillations until finally the other instruments join on the same note. The orchestration of this next section rapidly shifts while still focusing in on a singular pitch for some time. This part reminds me of the introduction Michele Dall-Ongaro’s large chamber piece, Festschrift (2010), where rhythm and orchestration are used to create interest in music that is fairly static in terms of pitch. Bertrand takes his time moving through ideas in this piece in a way that I find to be both thoughtful and engaging.
This along with the “December” string quartet from yesterday have been some of the most fun music I’ve found to listen to in a little while, but feel free to comment with your thoughts or recommendations for other music to check out. Enjoy!