Georges Aperghis, Le Corps Á Corps (1982)
Le Corps Á Corps (literally 'body to body' or also 'neck and neck') takes place at a race car track. The performer plays many different roles, from the driver to the sports commentators to the audience and even the car itself. As the drama unfolds and intensifies, the musical gestures speed up and become gradually closer and closer together until they seem to crash into each other. Periodically the music is interrupted by long periods of silence which seem to serve to freeze frame the action and prolong the tension of that single moment. Scored for zarb (an small hand held Arabic drum) and spoken voice with numerous instructions for the performer's physical movements, this piece treads the thin line between music and theater.
Text (translation from French by Matthew Gold):
II. Le Récit
Before ten o'clock.
Before ten o'clock, surrounding the body.
Before ten o'clock, surrounding the body, having already run the length of the track, two sides, body to body.
Before ten o'clock, surrounding the body, having already run the length of the track, two sides, body to body, the only visible action took place at the starting line where now and then a chariot surged, grasping the glittering helmet, bounding forward, wounding his arm, with each cloud of dust, and he descended, staggering from his burden that the pit crew rushed to fill with gasoline and to re-launch onto the track, with a clean rag upon his fresh wound, on his arm the blood flowing, immense cheers arise.
The bronze digging into the crack of the breast-plate, plunges into the entrails.
For another eighty kilometers of the circuit.
For another hour of brutal madness.
The bronze plate bracing their chests resonates horrifically, and from it spills a black blood that they wash with tepid water.
III. La Lutte - The Struggle
Georges Aperghis was born in Athens, Greece, on December 23, 1945. His father Achilles, a sculptor, and his mother Irene, a painter, gave him a rich artistic background in post-war Greece and allowed him great freedom, providing the basis for what has become a highly original, independent career as a composer. Mainly self-taught, Aperghis divided his interest between painting and music. By 1963, he had decided to give up painting and settled in Paris to continue studying music. His earliest works show the influence both of serialism and of Xenakis, and he soon gravitated towards the work of John Cage and Mauricio Kagel and towards the theatre. In 1971, Aperghis composed La tragique histoire du nécromancien Hieronimo et de son miroir, for two women's voices, speaking and singing, lute and cello. It was his first attempt at music theatre, demonstrating a fascination with the relationship between music, words and the stage, which he continues to explore today. Since 1976, he has divided his time between three central passions. After founding the Atelier Théâtre et Musique (ATEM), based in Bagnolet for 15 years, now in Nanterre, he completely changed his approach to composition. He began creating performances that used both actors and musicians; he based works on everyday events transported to a poetic, often absurd and satirical world. He treated voice, instrument, movement, text and staging equally, eschewing standard theatrical and orchestral hierarchies. A prolific and unfailingly inventive composer, Aperghis has produced over 100 works, highly personal and unclassifiable, serious but not lacking in humor, following tradition but free of institutional constraints.
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