«Intermezzi I»
(1998) for Fl and Pf

Ensemble Activa Commission
Première : November 29, 1998  Tsuda Hall, Tokyo
Ensemble Activa (Fl. Junko Chiba, Pf. Aki Kuroda)
Duration : 8 minutes
Publisher: Breitkopf & Härtel

The cycle « Intermezzi » (I for flute and piano ; II for solo koto ; other pieces will follow) was inspired by Roland Barthes' (1915-1980) theory of  'fragmented discourse'. Many of his books are written in this form : without any predetermined order of argumentation, various themes are successively thought through and thus unimagined associations develop while reading. This rhethorical form epitomises the simultaneity of various layers of thought, the mutual collision and densification of concepts. On permanently shifting ground, the attentive reader has no choice but to generate a new type of synthesis. Gradually, through the use of small thought-prompts, a unified view is prepared ; it is accomplished precipitously, and crystallises in a novel perspective. Parhaps, this is, an elegant way of grasping the unfathomable by comprehensibly accumulating the multiplicity of its manifestations. In the way my music is perceived, I am seeking a similar experience and that disengages me from any strict planning of the form and the technique of composition. My musical ideas have the appearance of improvisation, of a non-calculated process and my music only becomes meaningful in the very moment of events unfolding.

« What! By lining up fragments in a sequence, no organizational structure would be possible ? Oh yes it would : the fragment is like the idea  oc the cycle in music (Bonne Chanson, Dichterliebe): every piece stands by itself, and yet it is never anything but an insert between its neighbouring pieces. The work itself is made of nothing but that which is outside of the text. It is maybe Schumann who, better than anybody else (before Webern), understood and put into practice this aesthetic of the fragment. He called the fragment the « intermezzo ». In his compositions he more and more frequently wrote intermezzi : ultimately everything he wrote was interspersed. But between what and what ? What does it mean to have a sequence exclusively consisting of interruptions ? »

« There is an ideal type to the fragment: a high degree of condensedness, not of thought or wisdom or truth (as in the maxim) but of musicality. 'Tone', something that is articulated or sung, a statement, is to be juxtaposed to 'development': sonoroity must be supreme. There is no cadence in Webern's Short Pieces : how masterfully he manages to be concise. »

« Writing in fragments: in that case, the fragments are like boulders lined up on the circumference of the circle : I lay myself out all around, my little universe is all piecework, and at the centre: what? »
(Excerpts from « Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes»)

« Intermezzi I » consists of seven brief fragments, musical ideas which are arranged in an imaginary circle. I wanted to see how an emotion could spring from such patchwork. The interpreters whisper a series of words taken from Roland Barthes : Incidents (mini-textes plis, haïkus, notations, jeux de sens, tout ce qui tombe, comme une feuille)  [Incidentals (mini-texts, folds, haikus, annotations, puns, fall, leaves)]

Misato Mochizuki

Intermezzi I