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Tristan Murail Early Works

Murail: Early Works
Several of Murail’s early works use a combination of solo instrument and ensemble to explore the way in which a clearly defined musical object (the soloist’s music) can be metamorphosed by the accompanying group – a kind of instrumental version of the type of acoustic analysis Murail was performing in the electronic studio. In Mémoire/Erosion every note played by the solo horn is imitated by the nine-strong ensemble, so that the soloist’s music becomes increasingly dense and acoustically “dirty”, until it approaches the condition of pure noise. Similarly in Ethers the solo flautist’s music (including quasi-electronic sounds produced by singing into the instrument whilst playing, and “multiphonics”, a technique which allows the instrument to produce multiple notes simultaneously) are freely imitated and transformed by the accompanying six instruments, who also employ a range of unorthodox playing techniques to conjure up a fantastically strange soundworld.

The grandest of these early works, Les courants de l’espace, for ondes martenot and small orchestra, mirrors many of the processes in Ethers, but achieves even greater harmonic richness (bordering on sci-fi weirdness) using electronics to transform the notes of the ondes martenot, with the complex resultant harmonies then being further echoed and transformed by the orchestra.

CD Recommendations

Mémoire/Erosion; Ethers; Les courants de l’espace; C’est un jardin secret; Orchestre National de France; Ensemble l’Itinéraire; Loriod; Altenburger; Bruck; Mercier; Prin. (Accord 465 900-2)

This disc offers a snapshot of the works of early Murail, with a sequence of magnificently committed performances featuring Ensemble l’Itinéraire, a group, founded by Murail, which has a strong association with spectral music. The three works discussed above are joined with the haunting C’est un jardin secret, ma soeur, une source scellée, une fontaine close. . . for solo viola – a very long title for a very short piece
Sheet Music by Murail