Denis Levaillant
Vocal music

Compassion 1994

Concert piece for thirty male voices, 6'30".


Tombeau de Gesualdo 1994

Concert pieces for a counter-tenor and twelve voices, 16'.


Tombeau de Gesualdo

Premier poème

1. Mourir je ne saurais (élégie)

Mourir je ne saurais je ne saurais saurais mourir

je ne saurais je ne saurais saurais (ne saurais je ne saurais)

saurais mourir

Dis le!

Regarde !

Aisé délire

Vive capture

Oubli délié

Statue vivace

Regarde !

Ma belle ma chute ma frénésie (dis-le!)

Mon masque mon profil mon oubli (dis-le!)

A tes yeux roche blanche Regarde!

J'ai reconnu la mort et je t'ai vue


mourir je ne saurais je ne saurais saurais mourir


The Gamblers' Prayer


Concert piece for a child, vocal quintet and electro-acoustic, 6'30".


Madrigaux de guerre 1992

Concert piece for five singers (C-T, 2T, 2B), 16'.



Sunny Cash passion 1988

Concert piece for twelve voices, from the opera O.P.A Mia.

Excerpt 1 - Excerpt 2

Les Pierres noires 1984

Concert piece for twelves voices, 11'30".


The work was commissioned by Patrick Szersnovicz for the 1984 La Rochelle Festival and first performed by the Groupe Vocal de France, directed by Michel Tranchant on 30 June 1984. It was recorded for the first time in 1992 by the Chorus of Radio-France under the direction of Tranchant (CD Thésis/MFA THC 82054). It is dedicated to Christine Levaillant, as a love song (we still live together - but don't draw any hasty conclusions on the power of music)

In this work there is a search for secular polyphony, which once again balances the horizontal and the vertical, between counterpoint and harmony, massive lyricism and the pure line. For that I wrote a poem in four languages (French, German, English and Italian), each one, in its way, guiding the curve, phrasing and colour. Here, the music arises from the word and its own articulation. The harmony uses very rich chords, generally built on the systematic use of partial natural harmonics, which give a strange, attractive colour. The form is based on very detailed counterpoint, sometimes using three quartets, sometimes six voices against six, sometimes the twelve as soloists. What I gained while writing Les Pierres Noires still accompanies me, and traces of it can certainly be found in my opera, O.P.A Mia, and, more recently, in Le Tombeau de Gesualdo. That goes to show how fond I am of this work - "She sings in my dreams"!


LE FIGARO, July 1984

A magnificent concert by the Groupe Vocal de France and its director, Michel Tranchant. With his bare hands, he carves these Pierres Noires, commissioned by the Festival from 32-year-old Denis Levaillant. This black diamond forms a nocturnal counterpoint to the chalky façade, a sublime marvel of Romanesque art. Emerging from Gregorian spareness, this quadrilingual work gradually takes possession of the entire vessel, a vast resonator that transforms the black stones into praying women, drunken with love, in a sensual polyphony. Creation is doing quite well, thank you! To the point of not suffering from the comparison with Nuits, the great a cappella masterpiece of Xenakis, his "Guernica", premiered at Royan in 1968.

Jacques Doucelin