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Pierre Boulez - Le Marteau Sans Maitre



Boulez: Le Marteau Sans Maitre
Le Marteau sans maître (The Unmastered Hammer, 1953–55) again uses poetry by René Char, whose texts are set in four of the nine interlocked movements. What’s most obviously novel about the music is its scoring, featuring contralto, alto flute, viola, guitar, vibraphone, xylorimba (a large xylophone), and unpitched percussion – creating a percussive, strangely hypnotic soundworld which sometimes suggests the influence of African music. Scarcely less original is Le Marteau’s complex rhythmic structure, with capricious bursts of instrumental crossfire making such enormous demands of the performers that some fifty rehearsals were required before the premiere.

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Le Marteau sans mai^tre; Notations pour piano; Structures books I & II: Ensemble Intercontemporain; Elizabeth Laurence; Pi-Hsien Chen; Bernhard Wambach; Pierre Boulez CBS Masterworks MK 42619

Again, Boulez remains unchallenged as an interpreter of his own music – not altogether suprising, given its difficulty (Le Marteau required fifty rehearsals before its first performance). This excellent live performance is the best recording currently available, with seasoned Boulez interpreter Elizabeth Laurence the solo vocalist. The disc also features the enjoyably vigorous Notations for piano, Boulez’s earliest published work, and the two books of Structures for two pianos – showing the composer at his most recondite.
Sheet Music by Boulez