Elurretan (on the snow), was to be the music of a picture – the Hunters on the Snow of Brueghel the Elder. I wanted to portray this vast whiteness, beautiful and difficult, fun and rough. Afterwards, many other images were superimposed: the delicate prints of Hiroshige, Monet’s translucent canvases, a solitary walk in the middle of winter in Munich’s English Garden – the particular sound of this landscape, which muffles distant sounds and makes the closest dry, hides a certain violence.
The title of the first movement, Mara-mara, is a Basque onomatopoeia that describes the soft and copious flow of snowfall. We hear a descent of small particles, punctuated by increasingly rhythmic attacks. I wanted to look at the flakes from afar and up close at the same time; to contrast the soft aspect of a snowy hill with the sharp and geometric profile of each flake, comparable to a tiny and unique weapon, an indispensable gear of the machine of cold.
The second movement, Irrist, contains practically nothing but slides, linking in my imagination to the pullulement of an ice rink. It is, of course, a playful movement (guitar and mandolin play in ping- pong the notes of a common line), but I wanted to dig, by intensifying the gestures, a certain annoyance; an exasperation that reveals the dramatic penchant of chamber music.
Dardar, trembling, renders by a constant tremolo a sensation of cold, a vibration of the air close to vision or mirage – like that of the little girl with matches. The appearance is not long in coming: Ravel’s melody on a poem by Marat, “D’Anne qui me jecta de la neige”, runs in filigree through the whole movement.
Elurretan is also an extension of a previous piece for guitar and electronics, Belarretan (on the grass), which explored the music that might sound in Titian’s Concert champêtre. If electronics opened the door to an unlimited deployment of guitar sounds, in Elurretan I had to bring the ideas to life within the framework of instrumental possibilities, which I broadened through an exploratory approach – and deliberately impoverished by a repetitive and unmixed presentation of the elements. Perhaps I am inspired by what is paradoxical about snow: a monotony that comes from the repetition of unique and precious objects.