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  • Boulez: Sur Incises / Messagesquisse / Anthemes 2
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Boulez: Sur Incises / Messagesquisse / Anthemes 2

12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 10, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

To see the future of classical music, just look to the projects of Pierre Boulez. Whether conducting Bruckner, Mahler, or one of his own compositions, he continues to surprise, embellish, and reinvent the shape of music today. Sur Incises gathers three Boulez works that each focus, at least in part, on a singular instrument. The world-premiere title track uses three pianos, three harps, and three percussionists to create a dense, atonal, but very pianistic universe of sound. On repeated listenings, the abstract piece becomes more rewarding; you eventually pick up on Boulez's keen eye for tonal colors and shadings. On Anthemes 2, the piercing sounds of Hai-Sun Kang's violin are sampled, manipulated, and relayed back to her via electronics. Here, you won't find the lush Impressionism that Boulez hints at with Sur Incises, but you will find a fascinating interplay between organic and synthetic sounds. Messagesquisse for six cellos achieves similar results; the solo cello of Jean-Guihen Queyras is echoed and hinted at by five other cellists. As on their acclaimed recording of the composer's Répons, the Ensemble InterContemporain sets a high standard for these works, and DG does an excellent job with the recorded sound. These pieces may lack some of the musical magic of Repons, but they're no less fascinating. --Jason Verlinde

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Product Details

  • Performer: Hae-Sun Kang, Jean Guihen Queyras
  • Orchestra: Ensemble Intercontemporain
  • Composer: Pierre Boulez
  • Audio CD (October 10, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00004XPU4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,894 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 5, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This Deutsche Grammaphon disc, part of the "20/21" series of contemporary music recordings, contains three pieces by Pierre Boulez from the last quarter of the 20th century. Boulez's recent expansions of his venerable pieces from the 1950s ("Le Marteu Sans Maitre") and 1960s ("Pli Selon Pli") are increasingly overlong and plodding, but from this disc it's clear that the fresh pieces he's written lately are full of great energy and momentum, alongside the gorgeous warmth of mid-frequency sounds that has always been a hallmark of Boulez's art. This music uses all twelve tones, but it is never "dissonant", its formal scheme may be too complicated for some to grasp completely, but it's never noisy.

"Sur Incises" (1996/1998) for three pianos, three harps, and three percussion instruments is a two-movement expansion of Boulez's earlier "Incises" for solo piano. He had considered writing a piano concerto, but was frustrated that most of the orchestra can't match the piano's speed. So, in a nod to Stravinsky's "Les Noces", he added two more pianos, and brought in instruments which can mirror certain qualities of the piano. The form of the music consists of alternating tempos, one slow and meditative where one instrument often takes a spotlight while others accompany, the other wild and energetic where all nine instruments compete virgourously. "Sur Incises" requires great virtuosity, and is surely one of the most challenging pieces of contemporary music. The soloists of the Ensemble Intercontemporain handle it flawlessly. All in all, a fantastic piece. No wonder it won the Grawemeyer Award in 2001.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Autonomeus on March 19, 2005
Format: Audio CD
"Sur Incises" (1996/1998 -- 37'06)
for 3 pianos, 3 harps, and 3 tuned percussion (vibraphone, marimba, & steel drums)
Soloists of the Ensemble Intercontemporain

"Messagesquisse" (1976-77 -- 8'35)
for solo cello and six cellos
Jean-Guihen Queyras (of the EI) and the Ensemble de violoncelles de Paris

"Anthemes 2" (1997 -- 20'27)
for violin and live electronics
Hae-Sun Kang (of the EI) and electro-acoustic realization by Andrew Gerzso (IRCAM)

(This disc was reissued in 2007.)

Boulez sounds more and more French in his later years. Two of these works are among Boulez's latest, composed in the late Nineties. Both "Sur Incises" and "Anthemes 2" are light, dancing pieces that sound quite different from the ultra-serious early Boulez who was a disciple of Webern.

Listening again after several years on the occasion of the imminent release of Boulez's Complete Works by Deutsche Grammophon, I am still not overly impressed with "Sur Incises." It is certainly lively, with intricate rhythmic patterns. The harps and tuned percussion elaborate lines originating in the piano. But as with the earlier Répons (see my review), I find myself thinking how much better Reich's Music for 18 Musicians would sound (see my review).
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "frussianophile" on June 22, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I am willing to wager that when all the books are written on music in the late twentieth-early twenty-fisrt century, that the name of Pierre Boulez will rise far higher than his more famous (at the time being) contemporaries.
Boulez is an interpreter extrordinaire. His Debussy, Schoenberg, Messiaen, and Webern are among the best. And though many are apparently too deaf to hear it, his Mahler is a thing of greatness (just listen to the sixth).
As a composer Boulez is perhaps even more formidable. Repons, though influenced by Webern and Messiaen takes music to a whole new level.
The variety of Boulez' work is vast. Pli Selon Pli is the best piece of vocal writing since Mahler walked the earth. Eclat/Multiples ranks with the best works of Ravel and Debussy.
Yet Sur Incises is Boulez crowning achievement (so far). I cannot begin to fathom the kind of driving genius it takes to mould pieces like those included here. This is music like it was meant to be.
I give no comparison here...only recommendation. Get this disc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 30, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Pierre Boulez is gaining so much attention for his disarmingly insightful recordings of the masters that too often we forget that he remains one of the most important composers of the last century and this one. This recording is all Boulez - composed and conducted by the master. While the 'Anthemes II', for violin and electronics is a fascinating work and the 'Messagesquisse' for solo cello and six cellos are intricate and push the limits of creativity to the brink, the major work her is the rather lengthy 'sur Incises' written for 3 pianos, 3 harps, 3 percussionists (2 vibraphones and 1 marimba). At a recent concert played as a tribute to Ernest Fleischmann who served many years as the CEO of the LA Philharmonic, three conductors presented works created with Fleishmann in mind. Pierre Boulez conducted a performance of 'sur Incises' that seemed fleetingly fast and extraordinarily intriguing. There is so much color and internal conversation among the three groups of instruments that attention never flags. Would that that performance could find a recording!

In a time where there is so much emphasis on the young people in the arts it is a pleasure to re-visit the elder statesmen such as Pierre Boulez and find challenge and refreshment in their genius gifts to the music world. Grady Harp, March 11
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