Maurice Ohana

Études d’interprétation n° 11 et 12 (1983/1985) Duration: 18′

1) Sons confondus

2) Imitations – Dialogues


Piano and Percussion (1 player) (3 Cym, 3 Gongs, 2 Tam-tams, Belltree, Tamb., Vibra, 1 Oct. Crotales, 3 chin. Cym, 5 Cowbells, 2 Bongos, 3 Tomtoms, 2 Tumbas, Maracas, 4 WBl., 2 TBl., SD, Claves, Cithare)

Cosmoplitan in the extreme, Ohana was an Andalusian of Jewish descent born in Morocco, educated in French and eventually established in Paris as a major French composer of the last century. Debussy influenced him above all ‘classical’ composers, also Chopin, Scarlatti, Albeniz & de Falla. Flamenco and Afro-American jazz contributed to his interest in micro-intervals, and many of his scores are schematic, leaving performers freedom for intuitive recreation.

These Études are his greatest work for solo piano. The last two are elaborate duos with percussion, untuned metals ‘detempering’ the resonances of the piano, which are crucial throughout these expressive pieces, which deal primarily with musical, not technical, problems. Paul Roberts, author of an important book on Debussy’s piano music, premiered the first six at South Bank Centre, London, in 1983 & the others were completed in 1985, dedicated to Jay and Gordon Gottlieb. Premiered by the Gottliebs in 1985 in Clermont-Ferrand.

The final duos, with skinned percussions predominating, deceive us into forgetting that the piano is an instrument with tempered pitch.


Annotated by Laurent Warnier