• Title
    Pura Cosa Mentale
  • Performer
    Martha Argerich, Belgrade Philharmonic, Yayoi Toda, Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, Filarmonica Quartet, ...
  • CD
    MDC 7812-11




«Minimalist», «neo-romantic», «neo-tonal», «repetitive »: those are the epithets which contemporary critics, impatient to classify the man and his works in the archives of history, like to use to refer to Rabinovitch-Barakovsky’s music. «Rabinovitch’s music asks – and goes beyond – the most significant musical questions of the end of the 20th century. It makes one feel the weight of history, which has never been as obvious as in this age of headlong rush, and at the same time abolishes it by revealing a reinvented tonal world. It mingles the rhythmic vitality typical of this century with a rediscovered mysticism, beyond progress in art. All those intertwined tendencies are expressed through a taste for beauty, a hedonistic aspiration freely stated…» (B. Duteurtre) Indeed Rabinovitch-Barakovsky’s music draws its vocabulary from the history of philosophy and religions. It is more than an acoustic phenomenon; it unfolds on at least two orthogonal axes: an «emotional » level and a dimension that is «vertical», metaphysical and intelligible, which links it to the history of philosophies and religions in a mystical unity beyond time and space. Like the architecture of an Alberti or a Palladio, his music is conceived as a form of philosophy, pura cosa mentale. His music refers to an extra-musical content, and the sound language reaches the intangible realities of spirit through a symbolic rapport. This is why Rabinovitch- Barakovsky makes use of numbers and arithmosophy, as so many did before him, from Philippe de Vitry to J.S. Bach. In a way, the composer is a Pythagorean, but his Pythagoreanism is stateless and without denomination. He is interested in it only insofar as it serves his art. His absent referent is the ancestral idea (common to many extra-European cultures) of music as harmony, i.e., as discordant concordance of antagonistic clashing forces. Harmony is universal: by an induction process it can explain the combination of low and high tones in the intervals as well as the rapport established by opposite couples as dissimilar as order and disorder, life and death, stability and movement, form and matter, soul and body. Harmony appears following the action of the whole number, which sets a mathematical limit to the unlimited flux of matter. The number acts and matter suffers. And when antagonism develops in man between soul and body, the sheer quantity bridles the unstable reality of obsessive psychological states, subject to deterioration and dissolution. Music thus becomes a form of therapy, as Rabinovitch-Barakovsky tirelessly maintains: it rationalizes and purifies the soul of its dissonances the same way that limits appease the antagonism of opposites. This is not far from Plato’s Timaeus: «Since the revolution of the soul is inharmonious in us from birth, harmony was given to us by the Muses as an ally to put it in order and in agreement with the self» (Plato, Timaeus). Music is also an instrument for knowledge; self-knowledge, principle of individuation. «In my music the principle of repetition is used to convey those obsessions, and the number plays the role of analysis by structuring this repetitive motion. This method is therapeutic in a way, and can turn out to be an instrument of self-knowledge.» (A. Rabinovitch- Barakovsky, Courants d’air, Liège, October 1996). «Repetition in itself begins to create a new rhythm; an entirely different form emerges from the fragmented Whole and this form has potential to create a progressive motion that can establish free new breathing» (Piotr Pospelov, in: Soviet Music, N° 6, 1991). To search for the universals present in man with the help of archetypes common to all musical cultures so as to found a musical anthropology of the spirit: that is the program that the author accomplishes through composition, pushed by a «visceral necessity». For the purpose of selfknowledge, he goes back to metaphysics and arithmosophy: «For 30 years I have been trying to give the number a chief role in the unfolding of the musical discourse, with all its connotations, be they symbolic, metaphysical or psychological» (The composer on December 9, 1998 for the concert in the Zurich Tonhalle). Rabinovitch-Barakovsky’s process cannot be reduced to orthodox Pythagoreanism; it draws from this tradition insofar as it shows points common to most traditional cultures. The number is sonorous and symbolic: «As for the essential purpose of the treatment of the number in my music, I try to make its symbolic and intelligible aspect spontaneously audible and perceptible to the ear. Music arose from magical and ritual practices; indeed the number can bring to light morbid states as well as obsessive states of the psyche (through a system of organized repetitions), and bring them to consciousness.» The number pervades the tangible just as the soul pervades the body, and it relates back to the intangible realities of the spirit through its symbolic value, per specula. With regard to composition, this rehabilitation of instinct leads to the abolition of the impenetrable barriers between practice and theory, rational calculation and sensitive perception. It is as if form were generating itself through an automotive principle inherent in its own matter, as live bodies do. One can thus understand the author’s fascination for the incantatory aspect of music and the irresistible connection with musical magic. The magical interpretation of art deprives the soul of its causal value. The inspired musician operates with the help of favorable constellations, taps into astral influences, but does not create beauty, of which he is but an instrument, a medium, located in the intermediate space between the soul of the world and the musical score. He «commands» the great world machine by obeying it, and gathers the conditions of natural activity, encouraging or delaying the processes of the universal soul. Like the sorcerer’s apprentice, he sets nature in motion even if it means not being able to stop it. Thus, behind the inexorable dynamics of rhythm an apocalyptic message emerges, terse and disturbing: «I recently transcribed Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which is a piece I am attached to for extra-musical reasons. This is an apocalyptic theme, and it symbolizes for me the march of present industrial society towards the precipice, as in the painting by Brueghel» (Courants d’air, Liège, 1996). When Rabinovitch-Barakovsky speaks of his works, his arm makes a semicircle in the air, as if to say that all his compositions draw on the same circular archetype. «It is interesting to note that the classical symphonic form schematically reflects this movement from darkness to final jubilation […]. As for Eastern traditions, they have a specific cyclical vision of the evolution of the world. The cycles of creation and annihilation of all that lives are based on the principle of the eternal return. Their conception of the world is of an involutional nature, and the evolution process is rather directed backwards, marked by the motion towards degeneration and decadence.» To sum up, it can be noted that this type of musical discourse unfolds on two levels of expression: one horizontal, making use of emotional stereotypes easily noticeable for the listener, and the other vertical – the level at which those stereotypes go through a psychoanalytical treatment («pathologyinspired anatomy,» according to Piotr Pospelov) with the help of the symbolism of numbers, which aims at making them intelligible and structuring the communication with the interlocutor. The cyclical motion and the linear evolution thus merge to form a close-knit couple – a synthesis that manifests the general holistic project. Bending, like the demiurge of the Timaeus, both ends of the «rectilinear» course characteristic of the classical symphony, Rabinovitch-Barakovsky achieves the cyclical structure of the «sinfonia» Six états intermédiaires (1998), a vast reflection «on the two modes of existence» according to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Bardo Thödol. The theme is universal and the intention of the composer is not to «musically translate the content of the book in an illustrative way,» but to «search for analogies and correspondences in other traditional cultures or in philosophy and psychoanalysis.» The simmering energy of the first movement, La Vie (Life), expresses man’s reactions when confronted with borderline situations, as per Jaspers. Le Rêve (the Dream) gets its inspiration from Mircea Eliade’s reflections on the levitation of the soul when dreaming, perceived as the anamnesis of the mythical moment that triggered the creation of the world. La Transe is constructed around the figure of Tristan: it expresses in a ritual manner the exaltation of the amorous embrace of the mythical sky and earth before their separation, an idea common to so many cosmogonal myths. Le moment de la mort (The Moment of Death) refers to the encounter with «pure light» during the «descent into the underworld» described in the Book of the Dead. By its internal agitation, La Réalité is an attempt to make two specific aspects of Hinduism coexist: the powerful energy flux represented by the companion (Shakti) of the god Shiva and the almost inaudible vibrations of the primal sound (Shabda). The evocation of the Nirwanaprinzip, in the sixth movement, L’Existence, completes the circle. Musique Populaire (1980) is about the final metamorphosis of a harmonic sequence modeled on characteristic pop music motifs, the nature of which made the author reflect on violence and exorcism. La Triade (1998): «While composing La Triade I thought of the definition of the triple structure of human nature, characteristic of certain ethnic groups in Africa. This structure is subdivided into three elements: the perishable soul, the body, the imperishable soul. Each movement of La Triade is linked respectively to each of these concepts. Le Deuil (The Mourning) symbolizes, in a way, the ephemeral existence of everything that is perishable and ponders over the phenomenon of virtual, potential death – death of a soul, of a civilization, of a species (even if only of the human species). It is an anticipated mourning, as opposed to mourning practices advised by psychoanalysis. For La Transe – this subtitle refers to the movements of the body dancing to achieve ecstasy – I thought of the god Shiva (who creates and destroys things by dancing), about the experiences of Sufis or shamans, about the sacred masked dances in Tibet or during Hindu celebrations. As for L’Ame Impérissable (The Imperishable Soul), the word «silence» seemed appropriate to express through sounds the content and magic of a formula alluding to the transition from one life form to another. Death is no longer taken into account, it is only a transitory step. Bardo Thödol (The Tibetan Book of the Dead) offers a reflection on this theme, the Taoists suggest intimate union with the Dao, Teresa of Avila evokes an «immense silence» in which the Soul and the Absolute are merged» (A. Rabinovitch- Barakovsky, February 1999). The main inspiration behind the quartet with celesta Trois Invocations (1996) «might have come from three key themes in certain Eastern spiritual traditions: Suffering (1st movement), Desire (2nd movement), Release (3rd movement). This state of reflective emotion or emotional reflection could be similar to the state reached by intense prayer and could be interpreted as anatomical analysis of the motions of the soul that come with thinking about life, death and the Absolute. Such a – finally therapeutic – attitude is akin to the archaic techniques of ecstasy (In Tantrism or Sufism), to the ancient purification rituals (in Orphism, Shamanism, denominational practices)…» (A. Rabinovitch- Barakovsky, 1997). La Belle Musique N°4 (1987) is a discourse on the vital impetus, on exaltation. In its evolution, the latter goes through seven stages, this number being, on the spiritual level, a symbol for an ascending motion. The goal of such a progression would be to attain the reality in which an introvert might find himself. As Grégoire de Nisse said, «the mystical ascent leads inwards.» All of Rabinovitch-Barakovsky’s main works, included those presented in this edition, form an integral part of a global work entitled Anthology of Archaic Rituals – In Search of the Center. Brenno Boccadoro Translated by Maria Balkan

Recording data

CD 1


1-6 SIX ETATS INTERMEDIAIRES (1998) 52:46 (SIX INTERMEDIARY STATES) Sinfonia based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead “Bardo Thödol”

1 La Vie (Life) 09.09 2 Le Rêve (The Dream) 09.05 3 La Transe (The Trance) 09.19 4 Le Moment de la Mort (The Moment of Death) 08.16 5 La Réalité (Reality) 09.19 6 L'Existence (Existence) 07.52

Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra / A. Rabinovitch-Barakovsky, conductor / “Radio Beograd – 3 Program” / Recorded live at the Belgrade Festival / Saba Center, Belgrade, October 5, 2002 Sound engineer Goran Lêtunica Producer Srdjan Jaccimovic Mastering Jean-Pierre Bouquet, L'Autre Studio

7 MUSIQUE POPULAIRE (1980) 18:44 For 2 amplified pianos (published by Ariadne Verlag, Vienna)

Martha Argerich and A. Rabinovitch-Barakovsky / Recorded live at the Studio Hall of the Polish Radio / Warsaw, April 2, 1992 Sound Engineers Lech Dudzik and Gabriela Blicharz Mastering Jean-Pierre Bouquet, L'Autre Studio TOTAL TIMING 71:30


CD 2

1-3 LA TRIADE (1998) 28:50 Sinfonia concertante for amplified violin and orchestra

1 Le Deuil (The Mourning) 12.30 2 La Transe (The Trance) 06.52 3 Le Silence (The Silence) 09.28

Yayoi Toda, violin / Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto / A. Rabinovitch-Barakovsky, conductor / Recorded live at the Teatro Verdi / Padova, May 10, 1999 Sound engineer Marco Lincetto, for Velut Luna Mastering Jean-Pierre Bouquet, L'Autre Studio

4-6 TROIS INVOCATIONS (1995) 20:02 For string quartet and amplified celesta (published by Ariadne Verlag, Vienna)

Filarmonica Quartet (Valery Karchagin, Oxana Anisimova, Vladimir Kopylov, Nicolai Girunyan) / A. Rabinovitch-Barakovsky, celesta / Recorded live at the Paderewski Hall / Lausanne, November 2001 Sound engineer Jacques Massard Mastering Jean-Pierre Bouquet, L'Autre Studio

7 LA BELLE MUSIQUE N° 4 (1987) 17:58 For 4 amplified pianos (published by Ariadne Verlag, Vienna)

Mikhaïl Adamovitch, Alexéi Ieriomine, Anton Batagov, A. Rabinovitch-Barakovsky / Recorded live at the Festival Alternativa / Tschaikovsky Hall, Moscow 1990 Sound engineer Karl Shavitz Mastering Jean-Pierre Bouquet, L'Autre Studio