Hyperion Records

Hymne à l'Univers
This Hymne à l'Univers is prefaced by a quotation from the visionary theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin whose concern was with man's role in the Universe … 'Rien n'est précieux que ce qui est toi dans les autres, et les autres en toi' — 'The only precious thing is yourself in others, and others in you'.

Jolivet was a pupil of the avant-garde composer Edgar Varèse, but did not share his enthusiasm for serial technique. Even so, this piece, composed in 1961, has a tightly-knit structure. It begins with a combination of rhetorical proclamations with the unfolding of the material from which the piece is built — an angular construction in the pedals and a melody which convolutes itself around a narrow span of notes, rather in the manner of a chanted oriental prayer. It appears first as a dialogue of quiet flutes, and then the trompette starts another dialogue which builds up as the incantatory lines gather clustered chords. Then all is quiet again as the trompette re-adopts the chant,the angular pedal line providing a passacaglia-like repetition. The intensity grows until marching strides are reinforced by rhetoric as the music moves towards an apocalyptic final chord.

from notes by Ian Carson © 1991

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