Discography

...Mais les images restent...

Ernesto Molinari (clarinet), Thomas Demenga (cello), Marino Formenti (piano), WDR Sinfonieorchester, Peter Rundel (conductor)

  1. Aus Bebung
    for clarinet and cello
  2. Assonance lll
    for bass clarinet, cello and piano
  3. ...mais les images restent...
    for piano
  4. ...Es bleibt eine zitternde Bebung...
    (Nachlese lll)

    for clarinet, cello and orchestra

...the attention given to textures and sound colours, which focus attention on the moment more than on their direction, as if the motion - the agitated figures, the virtuosic runs - were only the immersed part of a deeper structure.

Philippe Albèra
Æon | 2017 AE1754

Audio samples

  1. Aus Bebung
  2. Assonance lll
  3. ...mais les images restent...
  4. ...Es bleibt eine zitternde Bebung... (Nachlese lll)

Cassandre

Astrid Bas (actress), Ensemble intercontemporain,
Susanna Mälkki (conductor)

  1. Cassandre
    Opera for actress, instrumental ensemble and electronics

Within Michael Jarrell's oeuvre, Cassandre represents the culmination and synthesis of an initial and extremely fruitful creative period, even if the selection of the work's text was « dictated » to him by Christa Wolf in both musical and expressive aspects. The figure of the Trojan priestess, reinterpreted by the German author, is torn back and forth between images of the past and of impending catastrophe. Neither Wolf nor Jarrell himself means to plunge us into the midst of the Trojan War: Cassandra speaks merely of her memory of the events. At the piece's beginning, the worst has already occurred. The tope of lamentation - and of revolt - is based not so much on a utopia of change or an attempt at a breakthrough, but much rather engulfed by a sort of twilight. In a tiny space bordering on nothingness, as well as in the lightning-like certainty that precedes death, time deepens, closes and returns in loops: in the intensity of emotions, the past becomes present. The various moments of the drama are not offered up in a causal chain, adhering to some realistic principle, but rather follow one another without transition, attracting and sounding into one another, in a stream of consciousness that reveals the essential. The inner monologue represents both an attempt at clarification and the admission of failure, a marriage of clear realisation and melancholy. The whole work, according to the composer, is one « long coda ».

Philippe Albéra
Kairos | 2009 KAI0012912

Audio samples

  1. Cassandre
    « Apollon te crache
    dans la bouche... »
  2. Cassandre
    « Je vis mon frère Hector... »
Order

...prisme / incidences...

Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Paul Meyer (clarinet),
François Leleux (oboe), Hae-Sun Kang (violin),
Marino Formenti (piano), Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Pascal Rophé (conductor)

  1. ...prisme / incidences...
    for violin and orchestra
  2. Sillages
    for flute, clarinet, oboe and orchestra
  3. Trois Etudes de Debussy
    Pour les notes répétées (orchestration)
  4. Pour les sonorités opposées (orchestration)
  5. Pour les accords (orchestration)
  6. Abschied
    for piano and orchestra

In Jarrell's music, one encounters this love for the craft of composition in the way he utilises instruments. This goes hand in hand with the concern to write not only for specific performers, but also with them in a genuine process of collaboration. Such an approach is inseparable from the claim to expressivity, the claim of a subjectivity which has reconquered its own spontaneity, of a music that is more immediate, more transparent, at once carnal and sensitive.

Philippe Albéra
Æon | 2007 AECD0752

Audio samples

  1. ...prisme / incidences...
  2. Sillages
  3. Pour les notes répétées
  4. Pour les sonorités opposées
  5. Pour les accords
  6. Abschied
Order

Music for a while

Ernesto Molinari (bass clarinet), Klangforum Wien,
Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, Emilio Pomarico (conductor), Gilbert Nouno (musical assistant)

  1. Music for a while
    for instrumental ensemble
  2. Formes-Fragments IIb
    for four voices, instrumental ensemble and electronics
  3. ...car le pensé et l'être sont une même chose
    for six solo voices
  4. Essaims-Cribles
    Chamber ballet for bass clarinet and instrumental ensemble

For all those lucky enough to attend it, the concert of 11 June 2004 during the Agora Festival at Ircam will remain engraved on their memories as an unforgettable moment of grace, an instant of instence crystallisation when, for the length of an evening, we were held in the unceasing grip of naturalness and emotion. This recording tells of that evening. A simple reflection of that sheerly beautiful instant when musicians and listeners abandoned themselves unreservedly to the demands of Jarrell's style, in music that, here, is as delicate as it is spellbinding.

Pierre Rigaudière
Æon | 2005 AECD0531

Audio samples

  1. Music for a while
  2. Formes-Fragments IIb
  3. ...car la pensée et l'être sont une même chose
  4. Essaims-Cribles
Order

Echo

Françoise Kubler (soprano), Armand Angster (clarinet), Ensemble Accroche Note, Ensemble Linea,
Jean-Philippe Wurtz (conductor)

  1. Assonnance III
    for bass clarinet, cello and piano
  2. Eco II B
    for soprano and instrumental ensemble
  3. Aus Bebung
    for clarinet and cello
  4. Trei II
    for soprano and 5 instruments
  5. Essaims-Cribles
    for bass clarinet and ensemble

Michael Jarrell's music is characterised by mystery and elegance: the mystery of a fire beneath the ice, passion behind seeming tranquillity, elegance in the form, acoustic choices and developments. Mystery and elegance that prevail over a highly personal universe that the five pieces on this recording illustrate in a way that is rich, contrasted and remarkably homogeneous. indeed, round the distinctive voice-clarinet pivot of the Ensemble Accroche Note and its founders Françoise Kubler and Armand Angster, one discovers the essential qualities of a career elaborated primarily in the demanding and delicate practice of chamber music.

Antoine Gindt
Accord | 2005 AC4767196

Audio samples

  1. Assonnance III
  2. Eco II b
  3. Aus Bebung
  4. Trei II
  5. Essaims-Cribles
Order

Solos

Christophe Desjardins (viola), Frédérique Cambreling (harp), Paul Meyer (clarinet), Florent Jodelet (percussion),
Hae-Sun Kang (violin)

  1. ...some leaves II...
    for viola
  2. Offrande
    for harp
  3. Assonance
    for clarinet
  4. Assonance VII
    for percussion
  5. Prisme
    for violin

Today Michael Jarrell is emerging as one of the most important composers of the last twenty years. If we consider that in musical terms the twentieth century finished on a high note, them Jarrell will have contributed to that success. It is ever and above all, to my mind, in his incontestable and remarkable inspiration that lies the great interest of Michael Jarrell's music, as demonstrated individually by each of his pieces for solos instrument.

Pierre Michel
Æon | 2001 AECD0101

Audio samples

  1. ...some leaves II...
  2. Offrande
  3. Assonance
  4. Assonance VII
  5. Prisme
Order

Michael Jarrell

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, David Shallon (conductor), Ernesto Molinaro (bass clarinet),
Michael Stirling (cello), Ensemble Modern,
Peter Eötvös (conductor), Sharon Cooper (soprano), Orchestre Südwestfunk, Arturo Tamayo (conductor)

  1. Instantanés
    for orchestra
  2. Assonance II
    for bass clarinet
  3. Assonance V
    ...chaque jour n'est qu'une trêve entre deux nuits...
    ...chaque nuit n'est qu'une trêve entre deux jours...
    for cello and 4 ensembles
  4. ...d'ombres lointaines...
    for mezzo-soprano and large orchestra

Wrinting is always rewriting. He says so himself - « composition resembles an arborescent system » - and this is what he does when he (re)writes. And this is what I shall do here, by writing on, next to, in the margin of his graphs. About his biography, his works, their recording which is yet another rewriting in which he has taken part.

And if he is not alone in rewriting, if others write after or following him - as the performers do, magnificently -, he has never been alone in writing. The writing-machine, like the typewriter, implies two hands. Two, for « while one hand writes (...), the other takes away » as says Freud in the Note on the magic block, and does not Jarrell himself say he sees his work of writing « as a kind of autoanalysis »?

He therefore does not write alone. This I know for having seen his sketches, the notes jotted down on « postcards » which he sends himself. From him to him, they are two at least. Sometimes three: as we know since Trei II, which contains three languages, three languages he refuses to translate except into numbers he destines to rhythm, which all are « exterior influences ». One for the other.

Before Trei II, came Trei. This is the numeral principle, the law of serial numbers. But Trei does not exist, at least publicly (as in a catalogue, an edition, a record, a concert). Trei has remained in a pre-textual state. Pre-Trei II. And so it goes on. Always these Roman numerals (there are now eight Assonances) which refer to ever older traces in his work. Some visible, some buried, but all pointing to a before state, as if it were impossible to reach the source. No initial point. And he says so: « I do not wish to construct each piece from point zero ».

This is why he says he is fascinated by Giacometti, and by others who « tirelessly pursue the same idea ». Like them, he claims: « I consider the Assonances series, which I call "my sketchbooks", as a right: the right to concentrate on one idea and feel free within it ».

Peter Szendy
Grammont | 1996 CTSP44

Audio samples

  1. Instantanés
  2. Assonance II
  3. Assonance V
  4. ...d'ombres lointaines...

Michael Jarrell

Charlotte Hoffman (soprano), Claude Helffer (piano),
Sharon Cooper (soprano), Sébastien Risler (piano), Rosemary Hardy (soprano), Ensemble Contrechamps, Giorgio Bernasconi (conductor)

  1. Trei II
    for soprano and 5 instruments
  2. Modifications
    for piano and ensemble
  3. Eco
    for soprano and piano
  4. Trace-Ecart
    for soprano, alto and instrumental ensemble

To me, music is an interaction between two elements : The acoustic material and the spiritual idea. It is both a means of expression and a craft which must be worked at daily.
The acoustic material requires preparation, arrangements and choices to enable il to carry the spiritual idea. In classical music, most of the acoustic material became integrated into a general conscience, making it more easily accessible. However, ils broadening out in the twentieth century, together with the absence of a universally accepted system, have given rise to problems of perception. Moreover, as music is an art without meaning in itself, its linguistic structures are very important.

When I compose, I am systematically confronted with choices which affect the immediate succession of events or the discourse of the form: once a direction has been chosen, there is no turning back. In this way, a composition is arborescent: a theme, a « Gestalt », may develop in different ways. Certain elements of a work may serve as ideas for another. Thus the pieces recorded here are strongly linked. (...)

Michael Jarrell
Accord | 1994 AC4617642

Audio samples

  1. Trei II
  2. Modifications
  3. Eco
  4. Trace-Ecart
Order

Michael Jarrell

Pierre Strauch (cello), Daniel Ciampolini (percussion), Michel Cerutti (percussion), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Florent Boffard (piano), Gérard Buquet (tuba),
Christophe Desjardins (viola), Emmanuelle Ophèle (flute), Didier Pateau (oboe), Ensemble intercontemporain, Peter Eötvös (conductor)

  1. Assonance V
    ...chaque jour n'est qu'une trêve entre deux nuits...
    ...chaque nuit n'est qu'une trêve entre deux jours...
    for cello and 4 instrumental ensembles
  2. Assonance VIIb (Rhizomes)
    for 2 pianos, 2 percussions and electronics
  3. Assonance IV
    for viola, tuba and electronics
  4. Congruences
    for midi flute, oboe and ensemble

This disc provides yet another example of the diversity and quality of inspiration to have emerged from the musical world's most distinguished experimental laboratory, Ircam, and its attendant demi-monde.
Jarrell makes use of electronics in all but one piece, generally by way of enriching textures and adding spatial and timbral effects rather than as an integral part of the compositional material. Actual musical material tends to consist of small cells, though a fragmentary impression is avoided by frequent diversions into motoric rapid-moving patterings and patternings which propel the music dynamically, conventional harmonic progression being largely absent. Ultimately, though, it is the composer's acute sense of tone color and the delicate and sensitive treatment of timbre that provide the music's most compelling qualities.

www.recordsinternational.com
Accord | 1994 AC4653092

Audio samples

  1. Assonance V
  2. Assonance VIIb (Rhizomes)
  3. Assonance IV
  4. Congruences
Order

Other recordings

Contemporary Reflections

Assonance VI

Quasars Ensemble, Ivan Buffa (conductor)

Hevhetia | 2011 | HV 0045-2-331

Flute concertos

...Un temps de silence...

Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France,
Pascal Rophé (conductor)

EMI | 2008 | 5012262

Claude Debussy - Orchestral Works 2

3 Etudes de Debussy

Orchestre National de Lyon, Jun Märkl (conductor)

Naxos | 2008 | 8.570993

50 Jahre Kompositionspreis der Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart

Assonnance V

Hans-Peter Jahn (cello), Junges Philharmonisches Orchester Stuttgart,
Manfred Schreier (conductor)

SWR Stuttgart | 2007 | 50KPS07

Entente Préalable

Incipit

Les Percussions de Strasbourg

Accord - MFA | 2002 | 4720862

Répertoires Polychromes 3

Assonnance V

Pierre Strauch (cello), Ensemble intercontemporain, Peter Eötvös (conductor)

CDMC - MFA | 2001 | 216038

Musikprotokoll'90

Assonnance V

Michael Stirling (cello), Ensemble Modern, Peter Eötvös (conductor)

ORF Steirischer Herbst | 1990 | 90ORF08

Villa Medicis 1989

Essaims-Cribles

Ernesto Molinari (bass clarinet), Ensemble Klangforum Wien,
Mark Foster (conductor)

Salabert Trajectoire - MFA | 1990 | SCD9002

© Michael Jarrell