Commissioned by Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco
Composed between The Shadows of Time (1997) and Sur le même accord (2002),
Pièce sans titre « Muss es sein? » cryptically responds to the famous question (‘must it be?’) left by Beethoven on the score of his Quartet No. 16 but also refers to the recognisably open-ended nature of Dutilleux’s composition.
At the world premiere in 2000, it was programmed as a prelude to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. To quote the programme note of the world premiere, ‘Dutilleux considered that the symphony could not be preluded by fanfares…so he imagined a piece that, while sometimes highlighting the virtuosity of the orchestral musicians, would encourage the listening to a feeling of contemplation, by the distant evocation of chorales whose repeated appearances silence instrumental flames and impose meditation.’
As with the orchestration of Timbres, Espace, Mouvement, which excludes violins and violas,
Pièce sans titre’s instrumental effects and physical acoustics invoke an abstract space for meditation and contemplation. Pizzicati decending lines quickening in the lower strings (a real stylistic signature of Dutilleux’s) open the work before rich orchestral flushes interject, referring overtly to the ‘waves of light’ of his earlier composition The Shadows of Time.
Yet perhaps most notable are the distant, pensive chorales which are left to reverberate, like those which appear at the beginning of the sixth sequence of his Mystère de l’Instant or ‘Dominante bleue?’ from The Shadows of Time: inner reflections on the meaning of all existence.
Philharmonie de Paris/Maxime Joos
Preview the score