I was fortunate to meet the wonderful bandoneón/accordion player Julien Labro a few years ago while I was composing the music for the Fernando Mereilles film, The Two Popes. I wrote a lot of music for Julien to play and was completely blown away in the studio by his exceptional musicianship and virtuosity. He seems to literally be able to do anything. So when the chance to compose for him and the equally wonderful Takács Quartet came, I was very happy to write a new piece.
Circles is my composition for their quintet and is a simple idea that I wrote during the many months of lockdown in France due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This piece was an expression of the creative process slowly starting to turn again, each individual voice searching for a line and searching for one another and eventually falling into a pattern or dance together, which weaves in and out of this collective rhythm and individualist polyphony. This theme of the individual versus the collective voice is something I have been exploring a lot in my work, especially when writing for a soloist. What does it mean to write for the individual, is it not more important than what we have to say as a group — the voice of many as opposed to the voice
of one? And in this case, I have left quite a lot of information out of the score, to encourage the players of the quartet and Julien to find their own expressions and dynamics, to bring their own voice to these skeletal notes.
Program note by Bryce Dessner.