On Christophe Bertrand, a Philharmonia evening and avoiding sacrilege

Christophe Bertrand by Pascale Srebnicki

Christophe Bertrand by Pascale Srebnicki

I had tickets for a Philharmonia concert today and by chance I saw on their twitter account that there would be a free pre-concert  of their Music of Today series.

Well, you know me. Having no actual knowledge of classical music (apart from long experience as a listener and childhood enthusiastic dancer) I thought it sounded interesting. It would be three pieces by Christophe Bertrand – whom I did not know.

Turns out that it was definitely a good thing I also had tickets for the Termikanov 75th Birthday Concert for afters. Prokofiev and Rachmaninov were an amazing – if temporary – cure, as Bertrand haunts me. I’m sitting here after midnight in my little London loft going over his website and listening to whatever pieces of his I can find on YouTube.

Here is a composer, whom I had no idea existed this morning, who was born a year after me and died on my name day 3 years ago (note for non Greeks: in the Greek Orthodox tradition your name day is the day of the Saint whose name you have. Sofia is celebrated on 17th September). I kept staring at the familiar date on the programme and doing the math. 29 years old.

Getting that into my head during the concert was even more difficult, as the orchestra (or the required instruments thereof) went through Virya, Madrigal and Yet. In Madrigal Bertrand turns a soprano into an instrument and gives her lines by Italo Calvino, Roland Barthes (of all people) and Rabelais.

I actually bumped into the soprano Elizabeth Calleo later that evening and shamelessly congratulated her. “The music is so beautiful, isn’t it?” she said to me. In my head the words “that’s the understatement of the fucking century” were echoing so I kept my mouth shut and nodded enthusiastically which is pretty much the same thing without the swearing and potentially insulting an actual artist.

The Barthes piece was simply beautiful – and the words she sang  (see below) – are with me still.

S’abîmer, Absence, Adorable, Affirmation, Altération, Angoisse, Annulation, Ascèse, Atopos, Attente, Cacher, Casés, Catastrophe, Circonscrire, Cœur, Comblement, Compassion, Comprendre, Conduite, Connivence, Contacts, Contingences, Corps, Déclaration, Dédicace,Démons, Dépendance, Dépense, Déréalité, Drame Écorché, Écrire, Errance, Étreinte… je t’aime

from Fragments d’un discours amoureux, Roland Barthes

Anyway, back to my little London loft and Bertrand, who looks at me from his amazing photos by Pascale Srebnicki while his music plays on in my head and the damn words won’t go away. 

It hit me about an hour ago that the sacrilege of actually writing something (I’m a scribbler. Not a very good one) from/ on/ about/ due to Cristophe Bertrand is the only way I’ll get the music out of my head along with the story of someone who was a REAL person and is now no more.

Which pretty much tells you why creativity some times is a carnivorous endeavor.

Which is why I blogged about the whole thing and have not written a story from/ on/ about/ due to Cristophe Bertrand. And hopefully won’t.

May he rest in peace.


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