The conductor Janos Komives commissioned this work in 1999 for his « Chateauroux Philharmonists ». Previous to this, I had been his pupil in orchestration for a while at the CNSM in Paris. Also taking this class was a young American trombonist and composer who tragically died at the beginning of my work on this piece; I therefore decided to dedicate it to his memory.
Baudelaire’s sonnet « Obsession », a cry of anxiety and revolt, was to become the spiritual guide for the composition of « Cathedrals », a title borrowed from the first verse of the poem.
After a tempestuous, violent, frenetic start, a maelstrom of the fifteen wind instruments, there follows a progressive calm which ends in an ecstatic and serene passage, just like a night studded with familiar gazes, where, in the eyes of the poet, the deceased « live ».
In memoriam Michaël Salih
Obsession (Charles Baudelaire)
Great woods, you frighten me like cathedrals;
you howl like organs; in our curs’d hearts lie
chapels of endless grief where old rales rattle,
echoing your De Profundis a reply.
Ocean, I hate your tossing and your tumults,
my spirit finds them all again in me,
I hear the monstrous laughter of the sea,
the bitter laugh of the vanquished, with sobs and insults.
O night, how you would please me without stars
whose light speaks only in the banal tongue!
I seek the black, the empty, and the bare!
But the shadows are themselves a canvas where
from my eyes a thousand ghosts are flung
of vanished beings with familiar stares.