The first 9 lines of the Inferno’s Canto III, the first part of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, are the material for this piece, as well as the following work, Les Neuf Cercles d’Alighieri for soprano and orchestra.

Through their emotional charge these 9 lines offer a characteristic balance in the distribution of terms (nouns, adjectives, verbs, pronouns, verbal phrases) that lend an instantaneousness to the text, as if the 9 lines were read at the same time.
The form is derived from an inscription : on the door of hell the entire text appears to he who presents himself before it ; the 9 lines, at first unclear, almost illegible, and then more and more distinct, more and more present, until all hope is denied to the one who must open this door (the meaning of the last line), as a metaphor of the “plenitude" that abolishes the chance and misfortune of existence.

The (musical) poem is thus structured by this inscription from the text, not in a linear way, but from the depth of a meaning that gradually reveals itself.

The four unities of time, the four parts, are the four stages of the text’s inscription on « the door ». The first prints the names, the nouns alone ( città, dolore, gente) ; the second reveals the adjectives attached to these names ; the third, the verbs, or the pronouns ; the last shows the entire sentence.
These four stages are of equal length, divided in nine sections grouped in threes ; the hierarchy of the material is as follows :
Each of the nine sections is given a duration and an aggregate.
Each group of three sections is given a calculated interval.
A pattern of 4 tempi guides the recurring appearance of the already pronounced words.
It proceeds in strata, carves deeper and deeper the inscription of the words, like the Ten Commandments.

The role of the percussion instruments played by the singing voices is to replace these voices or give them an instrumental dimension. They are the instruments and not the subjects of the text.
The density is one of the saturation of the words and its effect on the subject required to hear them.

D. Cohen