by Fabien Waksman
Concerto for accordion and symphony orchestra
duration: 19 min / commissioned by Félicien Brut
premiere: October 2021, Auditorium of the Bordeaux Opera (33)
with the Orchestre National de Bordeaux-Aquitaine, conducted by Antonio Méndez
recording : album “J’ai deux amours” published in October 2022 by Erato/Warner Classics
with the Orchestre National de Bordeaux-Aquitaine, conducted by Pierre Dumoussaud
Fabien Waksman received the “Victoire of composer of the year” award for this work at the Victoires de la Musique Classique 2023 ceremony in Dijon.
I. Let the gates of Heaven open!
II. Let Isis appear, Lady of Philae!
III. May Sothis awaken in her horizon!
The Concerto l’Île-du-Temps in a few words, by Fabien Waksman…
The “pearl of Egypt”. This is how the temple of Isis erected more than 2500 years ago on the remote island of Philae is called today. The ancient Egyptians called it iou rek, the island of time. They placed its appearance at the first moments of the creation of the world.
In this concerto, I wanted to give life to this fabulous temple island. Each movement seems to retrace a part of the history of Philae.
The piece begins with the spectacular opening of the “Gates of Heaven”, i.e. the gates of Naos, the sacred sanctuary in which the statue of the Goddess rests. We enter the world of the Gods and follow Isis on her nightly journey aboard the solar boat. Protector of the god Ra, she participates in the balance of the world, the Maat so dear to the Egyptians, and allows the Sun to be reborn in the day. The movement is conceived as a series of contrasting episodes, in which the accordion seems to play the destructive role of the serpent Apophis, the sower of chaos, and then joins the crew of the boat by merging with the orchestra. The journey ends with the luminous return of the initial motif, symbolizing the cyclical rebirth of the sun.
The second movement is inspired by the most specific ritual of the temple of Philae. Every ten days, Isis sailed to the island of Bigeh, located opposite Philae, to go to the Abaton, the tomb of her husband Osiris, where she offered him a libation of milk intended to regenerate him. An unreal music evokes first of all the exit of the temple of the statue of the goddess. A long and sweet song then escorts the Lady of Philae on her way to the Abaton, which ends with a reminder of the initial sounds. An increasingly ominous theme first resounds in the horns and then extends to the entire orchestra, suggesting the reunion of the two divine lovers and their secret union, invisible to the eyes of men. The goddess finally returns to her temple, lulled by the tender melody heard earlier, to finally return to her eternal home.
It is in the atmosphere of jubilation of the New Year’s celebration that the last movement begins. The most important event of the Egyptian year, the New Year coincided with the arrival of the flood of the Nile engendered by the benefactress Isis. The Egyptians indeed assimilated the star Sothis (Sirius) to the ba (soul) of Isis, and it is its heliacal rising on the horizon of the temple that signaled the coming of the flood. In this movement, I tried to imagine the increasingly frenetic dance of the crowd of worshippers amassed on the temple square, invoking their precious Lady of Philae. The return of the central theme of the second movement symbolizes the gradual arrival of Isis-Sothis, whose radiance finally appears on the horizon. The temple of Philae becomes at this precise moment the place where the here below touches the hereafter, the point of contact between men and gods. A last orgiastic impulse accompanies this extraordinary symbol of regeneration of the cycle of life.