Alain Bancquart


mode 120

Labyrinthe de Minotaur


mode 120/121 Alain BANCQUART: Le Livre du Labyrinthe – Prologue; Icare; Labyrinthe / miroir; Solitude du Minotaure; Meurtre; Epilogue — Nicholas Isherwood, Ensemble Voxnova, Pierre-Yves Artaud, Carol Robinson, Jérome Voisin, Pascal Gallois, Claude Pavy, Roland Auzet, Emmanuel Curt, Thierry Briard, Virginie Tarète, Martine Joste, Sylvaine Billier, Brice Pauset, Pierre Morlet, Frédéric Baldassaré, Romain Garioud, Florian Lauridon, Michel Poulet, Frédéric Baldassaré, Romain Garioud, Florian Lauridon, Michel Poulet, Gerard Pape, Alain Bancquart

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Labyrinthe de Minotaur

Text: Marie-Claire Bancquart

CD 1
Prologue   (21:24)
clarinet, bassoon, 2 violas d’amore, cello

Icare   (20:02)
bass voice, 5 celli

Download the MP3 sample (2.3MB)

Labyrinthe / miroir   (15:21)
flute, electric guitar, cello, harp, clarinet, cymbalum, 2 percussion, solo piano (in quarter tones)

Download the MP3 sample (1.9MB)

CD 2
Solitude du Minotaure   (22:03)
piano in sixteenth tones, 2 pianos in quarter tones, 2 violas d’amore

Download the MP3 sample (2.5MB)

Meurtre   (34:11)
soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass, tape

Download the MP3 sample (1.9MB)

Epilogue   (9:01)
clarinet, cello

Voices: Nicholas Isherwood, bass.  Ensemble Voxnova
Flute: Pierre-Yves Artaud
Clarinets: Carol Robinson, Jérome Voisin
Bassoon: Pascal Gallois
Electric guitar: Claude Pavy
Cymbalum: Roland Auzet
Percussion: Emmanuel Curt, Thierry Briard
Harp: Virginie Tarète
Pianos: Martine Joste, Sylvaine Billier, Brice Pauset
Celli: Pierre Morlet (solo), Frédéric Baldassaré, Romain Garioud, Florian Lauridon, Michel Poulet
Sound projection: Gerard Pape
Direction: Alain Bancquart

French composer Alain Bancquart (b.1934) is one of the leading composers of microtonal music in Europe. Labyrinthe du Minotaur explores the myth of the Minotaur and the labyrinthe. This large scale piece constantly delves into microtonal and harmonic relationships together with a lyrical polyphony. It is based on texts by his wife, author Marie-Claire Bancquart. The unusual instrumental ensemble incorporates (in addition to the above musicians): pianos in quarter- and sixteenth-tones, electric guitar, 2 viola d’amore, harp, 2 percussionists, 5 cellos, and magnetic tape.

The ensemble is comprised of leading European performers including Pierre-Yves Artaud (flute), Pascal Gallois (bassoon), Carol Robinson (clarinet), vocal ensemble Voxnova, Martine Joste (piano), Gerard Pape (sound projection), Nicholas Isherwood (bass), and Roland Auzet (cymbalum), among others.

The recording is of the world première of the complete version, at Radio-France, May 27th 2000. Liner notes are by the composer and full texts in English and French are included.


Alain Bancquart
Le Livre du Labyrinthe (1995-2000)
Mode 120/121

A trusted friend hands you a strangely colored gemstone. It seems to glow from within – a thing from another solar system. This is what mode’s release of Alain Bancquart’s Le Livre du Labyrinthe is like. There are musicians on this two-disc set I would follow anywhere: Pierre-Yves Artaud (flute), Carol Robinson (clarinet), Pascal Gallois (bassoon), Nicholas Isherwood (voice), Martine Joste (piano), and Gerard Pape (electronics). (Look up Artaud here and the others here on our search page.)

Bancquart’s gigantic six-part opus resonates with alien textures and aching lines. Suffused with intricately hewn microtonal music, each movement, scored differently, can stand alone as a unique work. This recording captures the integral premiere. Taken sequentially, each tableau seems the most remote outpost, the next unveiling something stranger still. Occasional passages throb with B-movie queasiness, yet the peculiar scales and tones make perfect sense. Bancquart isn’t some kid discovering how funky it is to play between the keys: He’s a master, effortlessly devising unbelievable sonorities.

An instrumental Prologue sets the stage. Over an uneasy murk of two violas d’amore and one cello, clarinet and bassoon croon beseechingly like stranded whales. Arranged symmetrically in Le Livre du Labyrinthe‘s grand scheme, two movements set Marie-Claire Bancquart’s poems: Icare for bass and five writhing cellos and Muertre, for vocal quartet and tape. Muertre clocks in at 34:11 as an ever-changing view. Constructed like a reluctant concerto, Labyrinthe / Miroir requires a solo piano tuned in quarter tones. Used sparingly, cymbalom and electric guitar circle in narrow tessituras. The subsequent Solitude du Minotaure demands two quarter-tone pianos and a third tuned in 16th tones. The pianos suggest bones rattling in catacombs. Muertre’s tape part offers eerily processed speech. A few spoken words spill into the clarinet and cello Epilogue, and finally we return to the light. But changed. You’ll be entranced and will return.
— Grant Chu Covell, (online review)


Also by these artists on Mode Records:

Roland Auzet on Mode:
Roland Auzet: Percussion(s) (mode 189-192)

Nicholas Isherwood (bass, also see Voxnova):
   “In the Sky I am Walking”:  works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pascal
      Dusapin and songs of the Native Americans.  (mode 68)
   Nicola Cisternino: Xöömij for bass voice & UPIC.  (mode 98/99)
   Mauricio Kagel: Phonophonie for bass voice & tapes. (mode 127)
   Gerard Pape: Monologue with electronic tape  (mode 67)
                        Ascension to Purgatory (mode 167)

Martine Joste (piano):
   Sylvano Bussotti: Piano Works.  (mode 65)
   John Cage: One5; Two6; Four3. (mode 44)

Gerard Pape:
   String Quartet #2 “Vortex”; Pour un Tombeau d’Anatole; Sorrows of the Moon; Ceberus; Catachresis; Three Faces of Death.
  (mode 26)
   Luigi Nono: A floresta é jovem e cheja de vida (with Voxnova
      and Gerard Pape, sound design).  (mode 87)
   Le Fleuve du Désir III for string quartet & UPIC.  (mode 98/99)
   Two Electroacoustic Songs; Le Fleuve du Désir; Monologue; Battle;
      Makbénach.  (mode 67)
   Ascension to Purgatory (mode 167)

Carol Robinson (clarinets):
   Morton Feldman: Clarinet and String Quartet; Bass-Clarinet and
      Percussion; Three Clarinets, Cello and Piano. With Diotima
      Quartet, others. (mode 119)
   Luigi Nono: A floresta é jovem e cheja de vida (with Voxnova
      and Gerard Pape, sound design).  (mode 87)
   Giacinto Scelsi: Music for High Winds – Ixor; Suite; Pwyll; Tre pezzi;
      Rucke di Guck; Preghiera per un’ombra; Ko-Lho; Three
      Latin Prayers. (mode 102)

   Luigi Nono: Voices of Protest: A floresta é jovem e cheja de vida;
      ¿Donde estas hermano?; Djamila Boupachá.  (mode 87)
   Gerard Pape: Battle.  (mode 67)
   Gabriel Valverde: 5000 Voces – with Marie Kobayashi,
      mezzo-soprano, Ensemble 2e2m, Olivier Cuendet, conductor.
      (mode 97)
   “In the Sky I am Walking”:  works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pascal
      Dusapin and songs of the Native Americans.  (mode 68)

Roland Auzet Profile
Alain Bancquart Profile
Nicholas Isherwood Profile
Gerard Pape Profile
Carol Robinson Profile
Voxnova Profile

Nicholas Isherwood Online