Galerie des glaces Karol Beffa
Label: Klarthe Records
Artist: Karol Beffa
Composer: Karol Beffa (1973-)
Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)
- Karol Beffa (b. 1973):
- 1Beffa: Kafka's Nightmare03:37
- 2Beffa: Birdland01:44
- 3Beffa: Las Meninas07:44
- 4Beffa: Piano préparé00:41
- 5Beffa: Le Songe du Cantor03:48
- 6Beffa: Nights in the Gardens of Spain05:05
- 7Beffa: Adagietto08:30
- 8Beffa: Drops02:05
- 9Beffa: Le Belvédère02:37
- 10Beffa: Charlot00:26
- 11Beffa: Le Joueur de vielle01:44
- 12Beffa: Le Funambule01:49
- 13Beffa: Angelus01:15
- 14Beffa: Fragments d'explosifs03:15
- 15Beffa: Galerie des glaces02:03
- 16Beffa: Sarabande funèbre01:57
- 17Beffa: Opéra en papier00:41
- 18Beffa: Le Clocher englouti03:34
- 19Beffa: Calamity Jane01:38
- 20Beffa: Rosamunde03:55
- 21Beffa: Carillon nocturne02:09
- 22Beffa: Souvenir de Leipzig04:16
- 23Beffa: Escher's Woodcuts01:39
Info for Galerie des glaces
The pieces in this collection, recorded in September 2020 at the Sextan studios, are Karol Beffa's fourth album of improvisations. Once again, his audience suggested the themes.
In some cases, the musician drew on various eras to feed his inspiration. In Angelus, a mystical dimension is incorporated into an intentionally archaic framework which evokes Gregorian plainchant. Sarabande funèbre, Le Songe du Cantor and Souvenir de Leipzig are all touched by a slightly romanticised Baroque. More overtly romantic in comparison, Rosamunde flirts with Frankish harmonies, while Adagietto makes explicit references to Mahler through its overlapping structure. As for Calamity Jane and Birdland, their rhythmic shimmy gives them a distinctly jazzy feel.
With Las Meninas and Nights in the Gardens of Spain, the audience is drawn into a spatial rather than a temporal disorientation, as the improviser takes them to a Spain of fantasized Moorish architecture.
Another series of pieces features characters: a playful Charlot, a disjointed puppet; a Joueur de vielle, reminiscent of Schubertian music; a Funambule who wobbles on his musical rope, torn between the attraction and repulsion of the void.
Particular sound effects have sometimes been sought. In Fragments d'explosifs, these take the form of explosions, which tear apart an anguished musical fabric woven of gasping and choking. The tinkling of bells is scattered throughout Carillon nocturne and Clocher englouti. And the hypnotic power they create is echoed in the pulsating pedal play of Drops and Le Belvédère. As for Piano préparé (and its anagrammatic twin Opéra en papier), the title speaks for itself.
Finally, Kafka's Nightmare and Escher's Woodcuts imprison the audience in a geometric labyrinth of false perspectives and endless staircases.
Born of very simple musical material, the piece that gives its title to the album, Galerie des glaces, draws the listener into multiple games of reflection and refraction.
Karol Beffa, piano
born in 1973, had a general education along with music studies after having been a child actor between the ages of seven and 12, appearing in more than 15 films (in particular, he performed with the Piccolo Teatro di Milano under the direction of Giorgio Strehler and portrayed the 8-year-old Mozart in a television film by Marcel Bluwal). Top of his class at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, he read history (Bachelor’s degree), English (Master’s), philosophy (Master’s at Cambridge University) and mathematics, graduating from ENSAE (Graduate School of Economics, Statistics and Finance). Enrolling at the Paris Conservatoire in 1988, he obtained eight premiers prix (harmony, counterpoint, fugue, 20th-century music, orchestration, analysis, vocal accompaniment, piano improvisation). Coming first in the Agrégation d’éducation musicale, a highly competitive examination for teachers, he taught at the Sorbonne (1998-2003) then at the Ecole Polytechnique (2003-08). In 2003, he earned his doctorate in musicology with a thesis on György Ligeti’s Piano Etudes. Since 2004, he is an Associate Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure.
Pianist and improviser, Karol Beffa is a composer whose works have been performed in France (Salle Pleyel, Théâtre du Châtelet, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Auditorium Olivier Messiaen…), Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Russia, the United States and Japan by such well-known ensembles as A Sei Voci, Maîtrise de Radio France, Cambridge Voices, and the leading orchestras (Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de l’Opéra de Lyon, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra…).
In 2000, the Turin International Biennale of Young Artists (BIG Torino 2000) selected him to represent France, and in 2002, he was the youngest French composer programmed at the Présences festival. Since then, he has been guest composer at numerous festivals: Musique en Tréfilerie, Juventus, Bel-Air (2004, 2005), Périgord Noir Festival (2005, 2006), Suona francese, Auvers-sur-Oise, Pianissimes (2008), Young Talents, Les Vacances de Monsieur Haydn (2009), Voix du Printemps at the Sorbonne and ’Annecy Classic’ (2010).
In July 2005, his oratorio-ballet on the life of Mary Magdalene was performed on three occasions in Provence. March 2006 witnessed the first performance of a piece by the Orchestra of Pau, conducted by Fayçal Karoui: this was the first time in France that a public subscription was launched to commission a musical composition. As composer-in-residence of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse (2006-09), Karol Beffa wrote Paradis artificiels (2007), a Violin Concerto, premiered by Renaud Capuçon (2008), and a Piano Concerto, first performed by Boris Berezovsky (2009). In September 2008, his Trio for Flute, Viola and Harp was premiered at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, a joint commission by Marie-Pierre Langlamet and the Berlin Philharmonic Foundation. In April 2009, his String Quartet was given its first performance by the Capuçon Quartet in Madrid. In addition, he has composed two incidental scores as well as the music for 12 films.
Karol Beffa is a fellow of the Institut de France in composition and won fellowships from the Lili and Nadia Boulanger Foundation (2001), the Music Academy of Villecroze, Natexis Foundation (2002) and Les Muses fellowship (2004). Finalist of the Prades International Composition Competition (2005, 2007), he has won the Charles Oulmont Prize (2005), the SACEM Young Composer Competition and the Chartier Prize of the Académie des Beaux-Arts (2008). In 2009 and 2010 he was one of the three nominees for the Victoires de la musique award in the Best Composer category. Finally, he was named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and is Chair of Artistic Creation at the College de France.