"First, a colour. In black, brown and grey blue hues, with from time
to time some transparent outbursts of pure light."
Then a rhythm, a regular punctuation, rather slow. A march? Battering
ram blows that make the night heavy at the window? And we feel like
"This mysterious noise sounds like a departure"
It is this same stir, this same cadence that we hear in Tchaikowsky
or Brahms, Mahler and the three Viennese, funeral but not only that,
heavily sombre, poignant.
This colour, this beating, like a bereavement without sadness, are Jean-Claude
Wolff's music expressive background. For him, colour is emotional, lyrical,
nocturnal - we could say Germanic. The design is precise, sharp - French.
The melodic lines, the rhythmic impetus (often complex), the detail
as well as the structure itself have a clarity, a liveliness almost,
that carries an expressive load that sometimes goes towards violence.
We also encounter a sensuality that becomes even more obvious in the
last pieces - a sonic warmth akin to a further development of the artistic
Paradoxically, there is in this music a sort of reserve or modesty,
of simplicity in the expression that makes us hear even better its secret,
its intimate heartbreak. We perceive this silence - or absence - that
is at the heart of music probably in the same way it is in literature
and in art in general.
No avant-garde dogmatism with Jean-Claude Wolff. No attachment to the
past either. His language uses atonality, serialism, various composing
processes. Sometimes even the tonality's nostalgic and serene shadow
(light?) mixes in. Neither past inheritance nor present demand are left
aside. There is in this man the worry, the full and necessary expression
- also human that is - of a true artist in the beginning of the 21st
Rory NELSON, November 2003