© Philippe Gontier


Following his glorious opera Macbeth Underworld at La Monnaie, composer Pascal Dusapin remains a focal point of the season. In February, visitors will be delighted by three of his most stunning instrumental pieces… including a Belgian premiere.

1. Aufgang, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (2011)

Pascal Dusapin : "Aufgang", concerto pour violon et orchestre interprété par Renaud Capuçon

Composing a violin concerto is a daunting task. When Pascal Dusapin undertook that very project, he faced a considerable challenge: finding a soloist to match his ambition. After a lengthy search, no one seemed to fit the bill and the project is put on hold…

Until the day Dusapin meets Renaud Capuçon. After some frank discussions between the two musicians, Dusapin takes a fresh start at composing the piece, with a new purpose. Aufgang, a work dedicated to the eminent violinist, is born.

Renaud Capuçon interprète « Aufgang » de Pascal Dusapin

The first notes set the tone for the contrasting character and atmosphere of the musical score. The violin’s fragile melody gradually intensifies: a fine, piercing ray of light in the darkness. Without Renaud Capuçon’s pure virtuosity, this bright, crisp expression would never have come to be…

At BOZAR, Dusapin and Capuçon will present the Belgian premiere of Aufgang, accompanied by the Belgian National Orchestra. Be sure not to miss the discussion between the composer and Hugh Wolff, the orchestra’s musical director, before the concert.

2. String Quartet No. 4 (1996-1997)

Dusapin describes himself as a “music writer”. In the following interview, he concedes that literature is actually one of his main sources of inspiration:

Une journée avec Pascal Dusapin / A day spent with Pascal Dusapin

Dusapin’s String Quartet No. 4 is the product of enthralling prose. At the bottom of the score, there is a quote from Samuel Beckett’s first novel, Murphy:

“The rock got faster and faster, shorter and shorter, the gleam was gone, the grin was gone, the starlessness was gone, soon his body would be quiet. Most things under the moon got slower and slower and then stopped, a rock got faster and faster and then stopped. Soon his body would be quiet, soon he would be free.”

Inspired by the “ebb and flow” in Beckett’s writing, Dusapin strove to express this literary – and already inherently musical – movement in his composition. The gestures come physically to life in the movements of the four players within the instrumental polyphony.

Quatuor à cordes No. 4 (1997)

The Danel Quartet have already put a sublime version of the composition on CD. In February, the renowned French ensemble will perform the piece in Brussels, on the stage of the Conservatoire royal.

3. Extenso, Solo No. 2 for Orchestra (1993-1994)

In the early 1990s, Pascal Dusapin no longer wished to conform to the traditional, relatively short, commissioned works for orchestra. He came up with the idea of a series of pieces, whose composition would be spread over several years; these pieces would both stand on their own and be developed from the previous ones. His Seven Solos for Orchestra, composed between 1991 and 2008, emerged from this creative process.

Pascal Dusapin - Extenso (Solo No. 2 for Orchestra)

Extenso, the second solo for orchestra, draws its melodic substance from the first solo, titled Go. Dusapin plays with the word “extension” and the Latin in extenso. The composer explains: “The musical material in Go unfolds, and then folds upon itself and re-forms in successive waves, until its original characteristics are completely transformed. (…) It is inside out, like a three-dimensional object which, every time it is inverted, changes its meaning and identity. (…) At the end of Extenso, the music seems to be holding its breath. It’s a question that remains unanswered.”

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