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Ask Pascal Zavaro about the references and inspiration generating or regenerating his music, and he may very well joke his way out by stating a fascinated search for a musical equivalent to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Adding that this phantasmagorical movie, with its world of poorly maintained machines and monster flex ducts, reflects a broken and heartbreaking humanity, and that his music is boosted by all the slapstick energy and bitterness.

He could also mention Austrian moviemaker Ulrich Seidl’s Import/Export, a movie that is “a dark, bleak vision of our modern world, showing us what survives of a crushed yet struggling humanity”. If we add sculpture and painting to these influences (Zavaro’s father is a renowned painter), his frequent references to César, Tinguely or Francis Bacon will definitely not appear as mere name-dropping pose. Bacon’s distorted, off-balance figures inspired him Three studies for a crucifixion, for chamber orchestra. When the piece was premiered at Radio-France in 2004, a carried-away audience was swaying along to its outbursts of wistful swing. For Zavaro’s music is something you feel. It has a tactile quality. It is a beat pulse, the echo of a dance (hear this fleeting boogie rhythm? hear that bit of mambo?), the itching of a battery of rhythms, spicy harmonies, agitated melodies, always on the brink of danger. Even more than enjoying the worlds it creates, Zavaro’s music enjoys their conflicting. The composer’s attraction to Polish artist Mitorai’s work is significant: “Mitorai’s sculptures look like fragments of real Antique statues, but with strange features: for example, a magnificent torso with a hole where the heart should be. And it is all beautifully carved by a master of his craft.”

Zavaro, too, is a master of his trade. The powerful expressive drive of his music is rooted in a clear harmonic expression that asserts itself and puts aside the somewhat fruitless heritage of Post-Serialism. Playing percussion in various Parisian orchestras - “the ideal place to get a global perspective on a piece” - was the perfect way to get acquainted with the repertoire of his fellow-composers. He heard it all: pieces he liked – or not. And he learned from practical experience. By and by, the young percussionist became a composer. His first piece, Hommage à K, premiered in 1991 and published by Billaudot, was written for marimba, an instrument on which he is a virtuoso.
Zavaro’s remarkable career started off the beaten track: he found his way to music through a rock band he founded in his teens. At home, there were only four records: Bach, Beethoven, The Beatles, Édith Piaf. “I taught myself how to read music, quite late, I must have been 15 or so. I also taught myself to play drums and guitar with various method-books, because I definitely did not want to go to any conservatory. Music was my secret garden and had nothing to do with anything even remotely school-like.”

Add to his broad palette of influences - from Renaissance madrigalists to Stravinsky via Bach and Bartok - American Minimal Music and its foremost representative Steve Reich. Déjeuner sur l’herbe (2000) is a good illustration of that particular trend. Silicon Music (1997) exemplifies not only Zavaro’s interest in electronics but also his taste for music that throbs and sways with a catching, dynamic energy informed by the research of repetitive composers and by rock’n’roll. Silicon Music was awarded the Grand Prix des Lycéens in 2008. What appealed to younger audiences was the feeling of never knowing what the next minute would bring. The music is a permanent unfolding of new events, their developments being delayed then abruptly stopped. Zavaro: “Ours is the Age of Zapping and this piece has something of a maelstrom, like a bobsleigh run during which everything zooms by and one doesn’t have time to see what’s going on.” In Fiberglass Music (2001), a live string quartet plays over a pre-recorded tape … of a string quartet! Yet the days of electronic music and Minimalism seem to be over for Pascal Zavaro whose art now takes a more European turn. The Meeting (2006) and Concerto pour Violoncelle (2007) illustrate this new trend that, for all the new material and manner, has lost none of the accustomed tension and tormented expression. Pascal Zavaro has composed some sixty works to date. “I have found the harmonic world where I want to be,” says the composer, “and everyday I discover some new aspect of it.”
We do believe him. And we’re ready to follow him there.

Jérémie Rousseau


> Premieres

DUOS DANSES - pieces for young violinists
Studients of CRR de Paris
CRR de Paris - Paris – France

LA MACHINE DE TRURL - for narrator and orchestra
Stanislaw Lem © Barbara et Tomasz Lem, according to Piergiorgio Nicolazzini Literary Agency © Editions Denoël, 1968, for the French translation
Orchestre National de France - Cond.: Jean Deroyer
Narrator: Eric Génovèse
Maison de la Radio - Studio 104 - Paris - France

> News

- Monographic CD release: Songs of Innocence for violin and choir, and Seul dans le vide for choir, by Mikrokosmos choir and Elisabeth Glab (violin), under the direction of Loïc Pierre, for the label Continuo Classics CC 777.714.


> Premieres

INTO THE WILD, for cello and orchestra
Orchestre de l’Opéra de Toulon - Cond.: Faycal Karoui
Cello: Edgar Moreau
Opéra de Toulon - Toulon - France


> Premieres

HAMELIN, concerto for clarinet and orchestra
Orchestre de Picardie - Cond.: Arie van Beek
Cl.: Julien Hervé
Eglise Saint-Martin - Laon - France

> News

- Composer in residence at the Orchestre de Picardie for the 2016-2017 season.


> Premieres

MANGA-CAFE, opera in 1 act for 5 voices and instrumentalensemble
La Nouvelle Société des Apaches - Cond.: Julien Masmondet
Staging: Catherine Dune
Théâtre Impérial - Compiègne - France

> News

- Composer in residence at the Festival Musiques au Pays de Pierre Loti, from May 19 to 26, 2018 (Pays Rochefortais / Pays Marennes-Oléron).

- Monographic CD release: La Bataille de San Romano for orchestra, Pastorale for oboe, bassoon soli and orchestra, Into the Wild for cello solo and orchestra, and La machine de Trurl for orchestra, by Bruno Philippe (cello) and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, under the direction of Julien Masmondet, for the label Claves Records - claves 50-1813.

- CD release: Manga-Café opera for 5 voices and instrumental ensemble, by La Nouvelle Société des Apaches, under the direction of Julien Masmondet, for the label Maguelone Music - MAG 358.420.


> Premieres

Orchestre de Caen - Cond.: Julien Masmondet
Caen - France

See all works composed by Pascal ZAVARO



Works composed by Pascal ZAVARO

See all works composed by Pascal ZAVARO


> 2018 / Maguelone Music MAG 358.420 - Pascal Zavaro : Manga-Café
MANGA-CAFE, opera for 5 voices and instrumentalensemble
La Nouvelle Société des Apaches
Julien Masmondet (conductor)

> 2018 / Claves Records claves 50-1813 - Pascal Zavaro : Into the Wild
PASTORALE, for oboe, bassoon soli and orchestra
INTO THE WILD, for cello solo and orchestra
LA MACHINE DE TRURL, for orchestra

Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo
Bruno Philippe (cello)
Julien Masmondet (conductor)

ALIA, for orchestra
DENSHA OTOKO, for violin, cello and piano
Violin : Élisabeth Glab
Cello : Henri Demarquette
Piano : Vahan Mardirossian
Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn
Conductor: Fayçal Karoui
Intégral Classic INT 221.176

RUSH, for alto saxophone
Nicolas Prost
Saphir LVC 1123

SENSATION, for soprano and guitar
Soprano : Françoise Masset
Guitar : Alain Rizoul
Mandala MAN 5111

SILICON MUSIC, for violin and ensemble
violin : Elisabeth Glab
Ensemble Phoenix
Pascal Zavaro, conducting
NYLON MUSIC, for guitar
guitar : Alain Rizoul
Piano : Vahan Mardirossian
Ensemble Phoenix
Pascal Zavaro, conducting
Mandala MAN 5113

FLASHES, for orchestra
Orchestre National de France
Direction : Kurt Masur
Ensemble Orchestral de Paris
Direction : John Nelson
METAL MUSIC, for brass ensemble and percussions
Orchestre National de France
Direction : Gérard Schwarz
FIBERGLASS MUSIC, for 2 string quartets
Quatuor Klimt
Radio France / Densité 21 DE 003

DEJEUNER SUR L’HERBE, for 8 solo voices
Swingle Singers
Primarily A Cappella / PACP 4530.2

SONGS OF INNOCENCE, for violin and choir
Violin: Elisabeth Glab
Loïc Pierre, conducting
SEUL DANS LE VIDE, for choir
Loïc Pierre, conducting
Continuo Classics / CC 777.714


Édition Balland, 1994