© Photo : Isabelle de ROUVILLE
Stéphane Bortoli was born in 1956. Studying under Claude Baillif, Alain Bancquart and Marius Constant among others at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique, he received first prize for composition there in 1988. Subsequently, he developed his skills under masters such as Iannis Xenakis, Luciano Berio, Franco Donatoni and Eliott Carter (as well as Vlado Perlemuter, Alain Neveux and Jean-François Heisser for the piano).
His curiosity also took him to Basel to examine Maderna’s scores, and to Banff in Canada as a guest composer (through the offices of the Paris CNSM and the Sasakawa Foundation), and would reward him with many prizes : Stéphane Chapelier Clergue Marie (1992), Georges Enesco (1995), Paul-Louis Weiller (1996) and Georges Bizet (1997).
Today, Stéphane Bortoli teaches composition, writing and analysis at the Mantes-la-Jolie (France) Ecole Nationale de Musique.
At the age of thirty-three, Stéphane Bortoli completed his first orchestral score known as such. Recognised by UNESCO, Dans la nuit is remarkable for the few themes it employs. In fact, it might be said to use only one, a rising scale, slowly constructed until it blossoms, like the opening of a fan. The extreme concentration of his writing, as well as the fact that it is difficult to distinguish accompanying or ornemental devices from his main forms, taken in addition to the fact that the structure on which the score is based never reaches the peak that a logical construction should achieve, all combined to strengthen the highly poetical nature of the work, inspired by Michaux. Two year earlier, Stéphane Bortoli had set a fragment of Plume to music in Sur le chemin.
Dans la nuit is an evocation. In an almost tangible way, its sound suggests the indescribable blending of the feeling of comfort the darkness can give those who nestle within it and the icy terror of total night. Coming eight years later, Psaume 22 seems to begin where Dans la nuit left off. Once again, it is a single theme that runs through the score, an undulation made up of alternate instrumental groups - calm or determined according to whether the composer, recovering the sacred word, alludes to “green pastures” or the “vale of terror” - and minor, individual beats too from the Seele leise (1996) quintet.
When Stéphane Bortoli takes a text in hand - and his taste is always reliable- it is to dress it in an instrumental garment that never obstructs the meaning of the word (as in Le Guetteur mélancolique), or to reveal its terrible modesty, as in Mein traum, to a text by Schubert (a score that is both strangely immobile and “cruel”). (Even crueller, and especially rawer, with a specific formation that requires among others four altos : Sur le chemin).
And then there is Les deux Lutins, an opera that “contrasts day and night”. It holds dark and mysterious forests that settle in because the music requires them, and especially candour, for the composer naturally (so with no constraints) introduces the “whiteness” of the voices there.
I believe that Stéphane Bortoli remembers chilhood.
Stéphane Bortoli’s works
Consult Stéphane Bortoli web site[ www.stephanebortoli.tk ]
Composer catalogue of Stéphane Bortoli[ pdf - 188 Kb ]
DANS LA NUIT, for orchestra
Orchestre National de France / Mark Foster, conducting
Disque ADES/MFA - 202282 (1992)
TEL QU'ELLE, for clarinet, bassoon, violin, double bass and 2 percussions
Disque «Feu Dévorant»
L’empreinte Digitale / Harmonia Mundi / ED 13019 (1993)