nF Presents: Ensemble Linea (Concert 1)


Ensemble Linea’s Wednesday night program features two multi-movement works whose movements will alternate throughout the concert. The concert is approximately 70 minutes long and will be performed with no intermission.

Vortex Temporum (1996) - Gérard Grisey (1946-1998)

Gérard Grisey completed Vortex Temporum – his magnum opus for six musicians – in 1996. His
meditation on sound and time served as a testament, as Grisey died two years later. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker takes on Grisey’s polyphony with a danced counterpoint for six dancers. How can you visualise polyphony by dancing it? And how can a dancer embody a counter voice to polyphonic music? Inevitably the choreographer probes the issue: what is time? Dancing the question is in itself a kind of answer.
As the early Christian philosopher Saint Augustine wrote, time is self-evident – until, that is, one attempts to put into words what it is exactly. Time, as perceived by human beings, can shrink, expand, stand still or jump forward, depending on what is unfolding upon its canvas. In Vortex Temporum, Grisey has turned time into something tangible by listening to how sound, as a physical phenomenon, behaves in space, much in the same way air may only be perceived when the wind chases leaves through it. A short motif of four notes – an arpeggio from Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé – snowballs from simplicity to complexity and back. Grisey makes the trembling of molecules –sound’s matter – perceivable by examining it on three different scales: with human eyes, through a molecular microscope, and by zooming out on it through a telescope – something Grisey calls it the time of ‘humans, insects and whales’.
De Keersmaeker laid out her choreography measure for measure, second by second against Grisey’s complex score. As she explains: ‘Grisey’s Vortex is an astonishing achievement: at once raw and refined, rigorously structured and wildly organic, primitive even. Just like Grisey, I have submitted a very simple dance phrase to a series of transformations, closely following the music but with an autonomous logic proper to dance.’
De Keersmaeker has chosen to stage an intricate intertwining of sound and movement. Each dancer is linked to one of the six musicians, and colours his or her dancing with patterns of movement proper to every instrument. Both the dancers and musicians travel around the stage following a pattern – a vortex – of swirling circles.
The piece is De Keersmaeker’s danced attempt at answering the unanswerable question, what is time?: ‘Time can be thought of as both linear and cyclical. That which we call ‘now’ – the crack between the present and the future that we live in – is in fact a permanent tipping point, a balancing act between memory and anticipation, leaning back and forth between the ghost image of the past and a desire towards the future.’

Rokh (2012) - Raphaël Cendo (b. 1975)

By avoiding almost anything resembling convention, Cendo practically redefines what music is, turning it on its head. The extended techniques used by Cendo cease to seem “extended” and instead become the most basic and fundamental — even obvious — ingredients for the intensely focused, self-referential entity that is Rokh I. The work’s point of inspirational origin is the terrifying mythological bird of prey found in Indian, Persian & Asian literature (perhaps most memorably in the One Thousand and One Nights). Cendo establishes the sonic credentials of the creature in the most dazzlingly vivid way, a counterpoint of violence formed from a myriad gestures, slides, twangs, thwacks, ruffles, slaps,
heavily compressed pitches, grindings, pops, clusters & whooshes. It’s as though we’ve become the miniaturized inhabitant of the great creature’s nest, confronted by activity on a massive and potentially very destructive scale.


Jean-Philippe Wurtz – conductor

Keiko Murakami – flutes

Andrea Nagy – clarinets

Carolina Santiago Martínez – piano

Ernst Spyckerelle – violin

Laurent Camatte – viola

Johannes Burghoff – cello

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