Christophe Bertrand – Treis

This is the first time that I have posted about a composer’s music more than once on this blog, but I was so impressed with the French composer Christophe Bertrand’s La Chute Du Rouge that I posted about a few days ago that I could not help but return to more of his writing. Today I am writing about his trio for piano, violin, and cello, Treis, which was the first piece he wrote following La Chute Du Rogues. Both of these pieces were written in the year 2000 when the composer was only 19 years old. To hear such sophisticated works from someone that young is truly inspiring.

Treis begins with a graceful upward run in the piano that reminds me a bit of the opening gesture of Katharina Rosenberger’s awesome piece Texturen. The two stringed instruments are largely sustaining pitches together that they glissando into and sometimes ornament. This first section of the piece builds through asymmetrical repetition of these ideas. After a while a bit, the strings let loose with a flurry of different articulations and rhythms until about 1’50” when the texture suddenly reduces to just piano and gentle harmonics.

This quieter section is very beautiful. The piano lays down melancholic, lyrical lines while the strings play interesting sonorities that create a variety of beating patterns in the air. He then plants the seed for the next large section by introducing ricochet bowing into this texture very briefly around 3’30”. The upcoming section is further alluded to when the fluttering texture around 4’25” reuses these ricochets and introduces repetitions of single notes at a fast rate. At 4’33”, these articulations and fast single note gestures become the dominant texture of the music. Around 6’40” begins the closing section of music. Here the violin and cello become almost inseparable as they both play unison pitch creating beating patterns by moving to a slightly higher or lower pitch and returning smoothly back to it in asymmetrical periods of time. This section leads to piece to a culmination by bringing many previous gestures from different sections of the piece together at once. You hear the rising lines like at the beginning but now with more intensity than grace, the ricochets from the middle of the piece, the fast repeated notes of the same section, and more. This section, particularly in the piano part, reminds me some of the ending section (~14’20” in the video) of Franco Donatoni’s masterwork for vibraphone Omar because of how it builds and builds from repetitions of the same pitches.

Bertrand has once again really impressed me with the way in which he approaches writing. His pieces have a very high level of continuity and coherence despite their complexity. Even during the times that I feel like a transition could have taken longer, it still hardly ever feels like the music is rushed. I also really enjoy that he pretty thoroughly exhausts the ideas of his pieces. His musical language has a really admirable level of economy to it that helps bolster the coherence of the music.

I have really enjoyed both pieces that I have written about of his, so I think I may begin a somewhat extended series of posts on this blog examining selections of his work from earliest to the final pieces of his life. If you have any thoughts, questions, recommendations, or anything at all, please feel free share them in the comment section. Hope you enjoy the music!

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