Play audio clip

guitar, harp, piano and percussion

“I stretched out ropes from spire to spire; garlands from window to window; golden chains from star to star, and I dance.” — Arthur Rimbaud, Phrases (V) from Illuminations

This text by Rimbaud serves as an underlying unifying device for the composition. The work is also based on two distinct motives, the first (or “garland”) leads to a second, more static one that is based on Gregorian chant (evoked by the poetic church spire). The motives are gradually blended as the piece moves towards its climax: a strike of the gong vanquishes the motives as though they were characters in an elusive dream. This musical exploration—delving at once into the music of Debussy, Boulez, Ligeti, and Takemitsu—can be summed up in three words: colour, poetry, and refinement.

Phrases V was composed in April of 2001 for an annual seminar sponsored by the Ictus ensemble in Brussels. Attracted to a rich blend of timbres that recall the gamelan, Van Parys chose to experiment with the types of sounds possible in an ensemble that includes a guitar, harp, piano, and percussion. This work was premiered in May 2001 by the Contr’Art ensemble in Bruges.

Performance

Recording