Pushkin’s Night was born of unforeseen circumstances. Accompanying the group Musicatreize on a tour of the USSR in November 1990, Ohana accepted the challenge of writing a piece in two days in Leningrad that would complete a concert program that had been modified at the last minute. Having early music in their repertoire, the group had added a countertenor and a viola da gamba. Ohana decided to use them, chose a few verses by Pushkin that were in keeping with the grandeur and beauty of the place, and composed this piece on the spot, a vision inspired by the Iron Horseman turned towards the Neva, under the pale moon of a mythical, grandiose Russia, in keeping with its immense spaces and the prestigious past of Saint Petersburg.
Four “moments” follow one another in this relatively short piece: a solemn opening in antiphony between soloists and choir; a tight dialogue between the countertenor and viola da gamba; a great aleatoric moonlight, motionless and shimmering; and finally, a dull, chanted march, as if from the depths of memory, colored by the sonorities of Pushkin’s verses, on whose name, like a silhouette lost in the distance, the piece ends.
I am illuminated by the moon
By a pale hand stretched out
The bronze rider pursues him
On his steed with a sonorous gallop
All night long
On the steed with the sound gallop.