Tarkovsky Quartet | ECM 2159



“It is to a true inner world that François Couturier and the Tarkovsky Quartet with Anja Lechner, Jean-Louis Matinier and Jean-Marc Larché give us a splendid access. Here are poetic ballads in which the voices of the piano, cello, accordion and saxophone rise up, answer one another, entwine, fade, and return... In which the pulse, like the beating of a heart, and the most imperceptible sounds sketch out a world in which the soul may soar with its entreaty and its dreams. Huge wings unfold, stretch out and close again. The image of dancers comes to mind. A whole protected interior space of long drawn out silences, in which, miraculously, improvisation remains sovereign. This is probably what brings us closest to the 'absolute freedom of the spiritual potential of man' which Andrei Tarkovsky regarded as the essential function of art.”

Charles H. de Brantes, Director of the Andrey Tarkovsky International Institute

Following on from “Nostalghia – Song for Tarkovsky” (2005) and the solo piano album “Un jour si blanc” (2009), this new recording, made in the responsive acoustic of the Auditorium RSI in Lugano, completes a trilogy for François Couturier. It also opens a new door for his quartet, known henceforth as the Tarkovsky Quartet. The work of filmmaker Andrei Tarkovksy (1932-1986) continues to provide inspiration for the pianist, and his compositions here are packed with allusions to Tarkovsy’s life and art. In a liner note, Charles de Brantes illuminates some of these references, pointing out that the titles of the twelve pieces heard here themselves constitute a series of tributes. “A celui qui a vu la’ange”, for instance, is an epitaph inscribed on Tarkovsky’s tombstone. “Tiapa” and “Maroussia” were Tarkovsky’s affectionate nicknames for his youngest son and his mother. “Myshkin” is named for the Dostoyevskyan prince whom Tarkovsky often spoke of as an apt film subject.


“San Galano” is the ruined abbey in “Nostalghia. “Mouchette” was Tarkovsky’s favourite Bresson film, and “Doktor Faustus” the Thomas Mann novel that he longed making into a movie. Tarkovsky wrote the screenplay for the Tajik Western “Sardor”, but never filmed it. “La passion selon Andrei” was the original title of Tarkovsky’s historical masterpiece. “L’Apocalypse”, last book of the Bible (Revelation), is a frequent reference in Tarkovky’s last three films, “La main et le oiseau” (The hand and the bird) “feature in the brief scene in ‘The Mirror’ which Tarkovsky later referred to as his self-portrait. This leads, finally to “De l’autre côté du miroir”, the other side of the mirror: through the looking glass toward other destinations for the imagination.

“San Galagno”, “Sardor” and “Le main et l’oiseau” are collective improvisations by Couturier, Lechner, Larché and Matinier, their musical depth testimony to the way in which the group has developed in the last five years. All other pieces are composed by Couturier, who points out that “A celui qui a vu l'ange” is inspired by "Qui est homo" from Pergolesi's "Stabat mater" and “Maroussia” by Johann Sebastian Bach's “Das alte Jahr vergangen ist”. “La passion selon Andreï” references "Herr, unser Herrscher” from Bach's “Johannespassion”, and “Doktor Faustus” makes allusions to Shostakovitch's Sonata for violoncello and piano, op. 40.