This piece has been commissioned in 2016 by the National Orchestra of Belgium for the debut concert of their new chief conductor, Hugh Wolff. In his foreword, Swerts wrote: "If one searches for the meaning of the word 'apogée' in a dictionary, it states as follows: 'Point le plus éloigné de la terre sur l'orbite d'un astre. Point ou degré le plus élevé que l'on peut atteindre. Par exemple: Cette composition marque l'apogée de son art.' One can reflect in different ways on this given: is this piece about the most far point of our listening experience, or is it an erotic scenery of two lovers, or is it just a term to indicate that the composer has tried to put all his skills he ever learned during his career into this piece? Although the title of this orchestral piece might suggest that it is a symphonic poem, it remains an absolute piece of music, totally abstract in musical content but nevertheless strongly committed to a narrative manner of expressing musical thoughts. Basically two musical ideas stood for the concept of this work. First, the way how classical composers like Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn always build up tension in their musical language with means of increasing and decreasing musical sections from 4 to 2 to one bar of music and the other way around strook me when listening to performances of their music. It is a simple principle that I wanted to explore not only in my one way but also and in a conscious way discovering how it would work and into what an extent it might result into building up a great climax in music. Secondly, my experience as a listener when I heard in the Musik Verein in October 2015 the Vienna Symphonic performing Maurice Ravel's Bolero: what fascinated me then was the real sound of effective orchestration and even more the limitation of the used harmonic material by Ravel. So the compositional question I asked myself in this work was how could I create a huge apogee in a piece of music in combining those two elements: conducting tension by shifting musical sections from 4 to 2 to one-bar sections and on the other hand utilizing a limited chord material, in this case only two chords namely C major and c sharp minor. It worked out perfectly, only the ending point of the apogee came in so to speak to quickly, already after four or five minutes, and I had to find ways to deviate this result by inserting a much more lyrical, dramatic middle section before returning to the opening idea of starting from scratch only with a bass drum playing some pulses. Actually the second time after the middle section the building up starts over again but now the sections are shortened into a half, two bars-section instead of four-bars section so that the tension increases much faster than in the beginning. It resulted in a massive climax and coda in the end. 'l'Apogeé' should address itself to the imagination of the listener: it has a powerful story to tell and I have no problem at all wether this leads to different listening experiences at all. For me personal it was a purely musical abstract challenge to be defeated. Varsenare, 5th of December 2016."
Study Score in digital A3 pdf.format, 53 pp.
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