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Pierre Boulez - Repons

Boulez: Repons
Répons is perhaps Boulez’s single greatest achievement, and the work that most happily marries his natural gifts with his constant desire to blaze new musical trails. Using IRCAM technology plus a unique instrumental line-up and layout – nine solo percussionists, surrounded by a small chamber orchestra, surrounded by the audience, who are themselves surrounded by a ring of loudspeakers – Répons unveils rich and strange new musical territory, achieving a scale and an energy virtually unmatched in Boulez’s music. Sadly, the work’s formidable demands – not only the virtuoso requirements of the score itself, but also the practical problem of transporting and assembling the relevant digital hardware, plus the difficulty of finding a concert hall big enough to stage it in – have meant that Répons has rarely been heard in performance.

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Repons; Dialogue de l’ombre double: Ensemble InterContemporain; Boulez; Alain Damiens (DG 457 605-2)

Unsurprisingly, given the lorry-loads of computer hardware involved in setting up every performance of Répons, this is the work’s only recording, though that’s hardly a problem, given the outstanding quality of this performance by Boulez and the Ensemble InterContemporain. The altogether more modest Dialogue de l’ombre double, for solo clarinet and electronics, completes the disc.

Sheet Music by Boulez