Ivan Bellocq is a French flute player and composer. He began
his career as a flute performer and teacher, and later became
Principal of the Saint-Cloud Conservatory. In recent years he
has concentrated his career on composition, and he has received
a number of commissions, including from Radio France, and the
Théâtre du Châtelet. His compositional style
is individual and has a sense of creative freedom, perhaps borne
from his lack of formal compositional training. This disc of
his chamber works will be an opportunity for his works to be
heard, perhaps for the first time, by a wider audience and demonstrates
the range of his compositional output in recent years.
The title track of the disc, Obsession
is scored for clarinet,
violin, piano and electronics. A slow moving, brooding work,
this is music which possesses a dark intensity, especially in
the quiet opening minutes. An explosive section follows, with
pounding rhythms and wild glissandi.
Tectonique des rêves
, for violin and piano, is no
less dramatic. Describing movements of the tectonic plates, but
set in a world of dreams, the two instruments are used to full
effect, with a range of percussive sounds and extended violin
is written for flute and reciter,
and is recorded here with the composer playing the flute part.
Once again using a wide range of contemporary instrumental techniques,
this is a successful work which is both dramatic and engaging.
At times, both performers connect in a vocal dialogue, and Bellocq’s
use of sound is both resourceful and imaginative.
The mandolin is not an instrument immediately associated with
contemporary repertoire, but Citrons éclatés
provides a wonderful opportunity to explore that
instrument in a modern context. Bellocq based his writing on
artistic depictions of the mandolin, especially by the cubists,
and the lemons in the title come from the shape of the instrument.
Silence is an important aspect of this work, and the pacing is
is a solo work for viola d’amore, composed
in 2003. This is an interesting work, making use of the instrument’s
resonance and unusual sonorities. The work that follows, La
was composed much earlier, in 1998, and there is a
distinct difference in compositional style. Based on the 15th
melody, there is more tonality in this work than in
the later works, and the theme is much more apparent than then
hidden folk theme of Obsession.
Despite this, the music
retains Bellocq’s unique style, with violent piano outbursts
and moments of extreme dissonance coupled with moments of calm
and peaceful contemplation.
There are two remaining early works on the disc. Trio déconcertant
composed in 1996 for flute, clarinet and cello, and combines
different musical styles, including a twelve-tone treatment of
blues-style material. Triptyque
was composed in 1976-78
and was Bellocq’s first composition. Here his early influence
from popular music styles, such as jazz, is much more apparent,
and it is interesting to see his more recent works in the context
of his compositional journey.
This is a well produced disc with some excellent playing from
all of the musicians involved. I particularly enjoyed Bellocq’s
own playing, as well as that of clarinetist Jean-Marc Fessard.
Bellocq’s music is worthy of exploration. It presented
well in this format, and I look forward to hearing more from