J.B. Robin: Time Circles, Orchestral & Chamber Music
J.B. Robin: Time Circles, Orchestral & Chamber Music
Jean-Baptiste Robin (1)
Orchestre National de France
Marin Alsop, Jean Deroyer conductors
Orchestre des Pays de Savoie
Nicolas Chalvin conductor
Sarah Nemtanu violin
François Salque, Victor Julien-Laferrière cellos
Delphine Haidan mezzo-soprano
Romain Descharmes piano
There is a prevailing theme at the heart of Jean-Baptiste Robin’s work, one from which this album draws its name (Time Circles) and can only be translated by the language of sounds: that of time moving inexorably forward, gradually altering beings and things in its path, on into death and oblivion. This recording focuses on Robin’s more recent output. (2012–2020).
The title of the first piece, Crop Circles (2012), refers to the man-made, symmetrical, geometric shapes found in crop fields. The slow introduction reveals two motifs: the first based on a symmetrical mode with a swirling melody, symbolising the geometrical designs of the Crop Circles in question; the second introduces the human element into this semi-natural, semi-artificial world. In the Allegro, ‘the initial swirling becomes a whirlwind’ (J.-B. Robin), then in the slow central section the second theme appears on the solo violin, evoking man at the centre of nature (the eye of the storm or the centre of the circle…). #Tictac (2019) was a commission from the Versailles Grand-Parc communauté de communes. This sonatina in five movements varies the tempi, rhythms and melodies, but is based throughout on the unrelenting movement of a pendulum. The opening tick-tock introduces the dominant motif, beginning the process of metamorphosis which develops throughout the movements.
Following the example of Crop Circles, Zénith (2020) brings together man and passing time through two juxtaposing or overlaying themes. A first section introduces the pizzicato tick-tock of time, then later the human theme appears alone and rises to an intense lyricism. A brief coda on the tick-tock: the struggle between man and time inevitably ends in the latter’s victory.
The theme of passing time is placed in a nocturnal setting in the three Poèmes de l'aube et de la nuit (Poems of the Dawn and the Night), wherein the unfolding of the night is ever perceived more slowly than the day. As such, there are no fast movements in these three poems, but instead alternating recitative sections and lyrical passages. The A-B-A' structure of the two first poems gives way to a through- composed structure in the third, which ends the piece with a piano postlude. Commissioned in 2014, Trois Nuits includes three movements and pays tribute to French composer Dutilleux. From the choreographic first movement to the recurring lament-like theme, the final increase of tempo leads the work to its infernal conclusion.
Much of La lame des heures (2019) is punctuated by the symbolic tick-tock: ‘Dark, mischievous, ill-tempered, heroic, the tick-tock takes on different characters and gradually appears as a blade that wounds, leaves scars, that never ceases.’ (J.-B. Robin). The near-constant dramatic tension of the piece is reminiscent of Crop Circles, and the final section culminates in the beating of twenty-four dissonant chords, symbolising the implacable cycle of the hours.
· Recorded between September 2012 and June 2021 in Paris and Chambéry
· Bilingual booklet in English and French contains liner notes by Giles Thielblot, along with biographies of the composer and artists
· Jean-Baptiste Robin (1976) is regarded as one of the most prominent composers and organists of today.
· He has composed over fifty works ranging from those for solo instruments to symphony orchestra and his works have been performed by various ensembles such as the Orchestre National de France, l'Ensemble intercontemporain, L’Orchestre national d’Auvergne, l’Orchestre des Pays de Savoie, l’Orchestre Régional de Normandie, the Maîtrise de Notre-Dame de Paris, the Maîtrise de Radio France under the batons of conductors Pierre Boulez, Marin Alsop, Laurent Petitgirard, Roberto Forés Veres, Jean Deroyer. His recordings have been consistently praised by music critics and have won numerous prizes in France and England, including several Diapason d’Or, the Editor’s Choice by Gramophone, the Charles Cros Academy and the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik Vierteljahresliste.
· One main theme runs through Jean-Baptiste Robin's work, a theme which gives its generic name to the present CD (Time Circles) and which only the language of sound is capable of translating: that of time which moves inexorably forward, insensibly modifying beings and things and leading to death and nothingness. The titles: The Hands of Time, for organ, L'Horloge, for baritone and piano, Tic-Tac for soprano and piano (three works from 2018), La lame des heures, for orchestra, Click Time, for saxophone, Les rouages du temps, for flute, cello and organ, #Tictac, for violin and piano (four works from 2019), La destruction du temps, for organ and Zénith, for string orchestra and two oboes (both from 2020). The present recording focuses on the recent output of Jean-Baptiste Robin (2018/2020).
· Performed by Orchestre National de France and Orchestre des Pays de Savoie (conductors: Marin Alsop · Nicolas Chalvin · Jean Deroyer), Sarah Nemtanu (violin), François Salque, Victor Julien-Laferrière (cello), Dalphine Haidan (mezzo-soprano) and Romain Descharmes (piano).