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Boulez: Le Marteau Sans Maitre [Import]

Laurence , Chen , Wambach , Boulez , Pierre Boulez Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Details

  • Composer: Pierre Boulez
  • Audio CD
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B000027RI9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,584 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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This CBS disc from 1989 presents three works by Pierre Boulez dating from fairly early in his career. Indeed, the 12 Notations (1944) are Boulez's earliest acknowledged work, written when he was still a student at the Paris conservatory and had just discovered twelve-tone music. Not only are they based on a twelve-tone row, but each consists only of twelve measures. In spite of certain formal commonalities, however, these miniatures widely range from free (e.g. 1) to tightly rhythmic (4, 6), contemplative (3) to frenetic (2). If you like, for example, Gyorgy Ligeti's "Musica Ricercata", you'll find this quite enjoyable.

Pi-Hsien Chen's performance here was actually the world-premiere recording, as Boulez finally published the Notations in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, CBS put all twelve Notations on a single CD track, so it's harder to appreciate the individual pieces. The reference recording remains, in my opinion, that by Pierre-Laurent Aimard on a DG disc.

The largest work on this disc is "Le Marteau sans Maitre" for alto and ensemble, where the composer himself leads the Ensemble Intercontemporain, with Elizabeth Laurence as the solo voice. The scoring here was revolutionary at the time: besides unpitched percussion, there is alto flute, viola, guitar, vibraphone and xylorimba. All instruments are squarely in the middle range, but have a dazzling array of sonorities. The nine-movement piece is in three interlocked cycles, each based around a vocal movement where a poem by Rene Char is delivered by the alto, but the vocals are delivered less as a clear text and more as an extension of the instrumental sound.
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