for string quartet (2019 – 2020)
duration : 22 minutes
Stoa was born from crepuscular considerations of music, in a time where humankind scientifically and rationally thinks of its own end. The composer is also worried, to a derisory extent, about what happens to the musical autonomy which has been acquired until now, and which has led to the exploration of increasingly rich sound phenomena. In front of this, movements of dissolution are at work, which tend to reduce music to an object of memory or some old fashions, or again to drown it in a multimedia flow where music would only be secondary
With Stoa, the hypothesis of a vanishing string quartet becomes a composition process, which is not intended to destroy the classical formation as conceived by Haydn. The piece rather tries to pull the quartet out of itself, speculating on the possible interstices that have been left behind in history, without forgetting the possibility of new sounds. The title comes from ancient Greek architecture, where the stoa was the covered part of a building, between the facade and the colonnades. Stoicism, the « philosophy of the porch », was born under the Stoa Poikile. The stoic ethic tried to line up its conception of destiny to a strong moral requirement, as opposed to any renunciation or emotion of sadness.
The optical corrections of the temples (the entasis of the columns, the curvatures, the rhythmic shifts) are all processes that inspire the quartet’s perspective, literally and figuratively. The traditional semicircle position of the musicians, sight-synchronized, straightens up until the players stand like columns facing the audience. The mutes simulate the distances and depths of a sound field which exceed the architecture of the concert hall. The musical writing changes to allow synchronization by ear; the players disappear one by one, until a last one remains on stage, playing with the distant memory of the quartet.
Stoa is dedicated to the Adastra String Quartet
3rd october 2020, Festival Musica, Strasbourg, France