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  • Boulez: Notations I-XII, Structures II, explosante-fixe...
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Boulez: Notations I-XII, Structures II, explosante-fixe...

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Audio CD, January 23, 1996
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Product Details

  • Performer: Ensemble InterContemporain
  • Conductor: Pierre Boulez, Pierre-Andre Valade
  • Composer: Pierre Boulez
  • Audio CD (January 23, 1996)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GOY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,035 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Pierre Boulez is a genuine rarity, a conductor who holds his own as a respected composer. Here he conducts a trio of his own works, from his earliest-published composition, Notations, to the version of ...explosante-fixe... that he conducted at IRCAM in the early 1990s. The piano works reveal what Boulez treasures: extremity of contrast, bruised sonorities humming as constant color, and skewered virtuosity.

From Notations, things proceed to Structures pour deux pianos, where pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Florent Boffard dash into, across, beyond, above, and below each other in clustering runs and spare, telling jabs. The 36-minute ...explosante-fixe... is a celebration of accelerated and intensified sonic forestry. Sophie Cherrier's solo MIDI flute is electronically tampered with as a chamber orchestra and two additional flutes seek to ensnare, overwhelm, and surround Cherrier with unending swirls of sound. Energetic would be too flat a word to describe this display of volume and shifting soundscapes. Boulez advances electroacoustic composition here and shows himself a spectacular performing visionary in his leadership of the piece. --Andrew Bartlett

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This Deutsche Grammophon disc contains three pieces by the great French composer, conductor, and theorist. The first two pieces are writen for piano, "Notations" is performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and on "Structures pour deux pianos, Livre II" Aimard is accompanied by Florent Boffard. The third, "...explosante-fixe..." is for solo MIDI flute (Sophier Cherrier), two flutes (Emmanuelle Orphele and Pierre-Andre Valade), electronics, and orchestra, here the Ensemble Intercontemporain conducted by Boulez himself. It should be notated that the recording was re-released in 2005 in the "Echo 20/21" series for the composer's 80th birthday, and if artwork and packaging matter to you, the new edition may be preferable to the original 1996 disc.

"Notations" (1945) is a series of twelve piano miniatures written in the very early days of Boulez's career and is fact the earliest piece he has published. Initially neglected after their composition, two Notations (5 and 9) were quietly used in "Pli selon pli", and then the work was fully uncovered in 1970s, when the composer embarked on orchestrating them. While the orchestral versions--much longer and of course with a greater range of colour--are impressive, the original piano Notations are a delight as well. Each consists only of twelve measures, featuring a twelve-tone row in much the same fashion as the work of Anton Webern. In spite of certain formal commonalities, however, the pieces widely range from free (e.g. 1) to tightly rhythmic (4, 6), contemplative (3) to frenetic (2). If you like Gyorgy Ligeti's "Musica Ricercata", you'll find this quite enjoyable. Aimard's performance here is so confident and poised, the man is a titan of contemporary piano repertoire.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By scarecrow VINE VOICE on April 9, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Explosante-Fixe was one of the first work Boulez engaged with the computer assisted musical structures and regular instruments at IRCAM ,the new music mecca somewhere in the bowels of Paris. Of his generation Boulez regardless of the engagement of an intellectual agenda for music always imparts his deep sensual feel to his works. He certainly learned much from Debussy. This work concerns the brokeness of chords the arpeggiated sound. There is more than one version and Boulez is the incessant re-negotiator of his work, always rethinking,revising, it points to the values of the postmodernist epoch, which I guess has run its course. The Notations for piano here is a waste of time,perhaps a vanity, Maitre Boulez should record the subsequent realizations for orchestra. That work has a dramatic power a deep labyrinth of sound and timbre exploiting the full colours of the modernist orchestra. I know Barenboim did them with Chicago, now a committed instrument to the Boulezian cause,coming from the deeply Germanic of the Solti years. But these piano pieces are like young budding sketches,pointillistic, engaged with the full register of the piano's roaring and stridently bright sonorities. It is like the seeds archeologist have found in Egyptian tombs, when planted some centuries later,still bore fruit. Needless to say the ghost of Meesiaen appears here in the piano solo hovering above. The Structures is the laboritorio of the piano,coldly conceived,brutal,uncompromising and rugged, and from a fascinating perspective is like an electric music thinker's realization for the two pianos. You actually cannot distinguish where one begins and the other trails into it. This work is pure expressionism, yet gently poetic and evocative. The fact that this work still elicits negative responses points to its avant-gardism, its ability to shock and subvert, change and challenge the confines of the classical canon
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Format: Audio CD
Pierre Boulez, the tireless champion of Webern and the Second Vienna School, wrote three major pieces in what I now think of as his late period -- Repons (1981-84 -- see my review), "...explasante-fixe..." (1991-93) and Sur Incises (1996/98 -- see my review). I have never found the shimmery, Debussian electro-acoustic "Repons" to be particularly impressive. "Sur Incises" sounds better with time, and I now hear more clearly how it fits in Boulez's project than when I first it several years ago. And while "...explosante-fixe..." doesn't sound quite as amazing now as it did initially, I still consider it to be the best of the "late trilogy," a swirling, impressionistic electro-acoustic flute concerto.

The midi flute of Sophie Cherrier is featured, along with two more flutes (Emmanuelle Ophele and Pierre-Andre Valade), and the Ensemble Intercontemporain, with electro-acoustic realization by Andrew Gerszo of IRCAM. The form is three instrumental movements separated by two electronic interludes (interstitiel). It's ironic, perhaps, that when Boulez decides to let fly with his most powerful work he does it with a flute piece, but this is no ordinary flute -- the electronic amplification makes it possible for Cherrier to cut through even the densest of passages. The IRCAM technology is utilized to its fullest. On first listening, I thought it sounded more like Xenakis than I do today. Boulez's soundworld is very different from Xenakis's, very French and very Debussian. The electronics are not hard-edged or forceful, rather they created swirling clouds of sound.
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