Georges Aperghis, Le Corps Á Corps (1978)
Georges Aperghis’ Le Corps Á Corps (literally ‘body to body’ or also ‘neck and neck’) takes a race car track as its setting. The performer plays many different roles: the driver, the sports commentators, the audience, and even the car itself. Aperghis develops the material in an almost cinematic fashion, splicing the musical gestures and spoken text into smaller and smaller pieces and placing them closer and closer together as the drama unfolds and intensifies; these bit of material finally crash into one another as the piece hurtles towards its final bars. The music is periodically interrupted by long periods of silence which freeze frame the action and prolong the tension of a single moment. Scored for zarb (an small hand held Arabic drum) and spoken voice with numerous instructions for the performer’s physical movements, this, like many of Aperghis’ works, treads the thin line between music and theater.
Text (translation from French by Matthew Gold):
II. Le Récit
Before ten o’clock.
Before ten o’clock, surrounding the body.
Before ten o’clock, surrounding the body, having already run the length of the track, two sides, body to body.
Before ten o’clock, surrounding the body, having already run the length of the track, two sides, body to body, the only visible action took place at the starting line where now and then a chariot surged, grasping the glittering helmet, bounding forward, wounding his arm, with each cloud of dust, and he descended, staggering from his burden that the pit crew rushed to fill with gasoline and to re-launch onto the track, with a clean rag upon his fresh wound, on his arm the blood flowing, immense cheers arise.
The bronze digging into the crack of the breast-plate, plunges into the entrails.
For another eighty kilometers of the circuit.
For another hour of brutal madness.
The bronze plate bracing their chests resonates horrifically, and from it spills a black blood that they wash with tepid water.
III. La Lutte – The Struggle