Edgar Varèse – Déserts (World Premiere, 1954)

The first performance of the combined orchestral and tape sound composition was given at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris on December 2, 1954, with Hermann Scherchen conducting and Pierre Henry in charge of the tape part. This performance was part of an ORTF broadcast concert, in front of a totally unprepared and mainly conservative audience, with Déserts wedged between pieces by Mozart and Tchaikovsky. It received a vitriolic reaction from both the audience and the press. [source]



Gérard Grisey – Partiels (1975)

Partiels for 18 Musiciens

Partiels is a defining piece of Spectral music by Gérard Grisey whose opening is derived from an electronic sonogram analysis of the attack of a low E2 on a trombonet. This spectrum is orchestrally synthesized through the assignation of different instruments to each partial in such a way as to harmonically and gesturally model the dynamic temporal evolution of the attack. Many second and third generation spectral composers cite Partiels as causing their initial interest in the spectral outlook.

Thus the opening features the successive entrance of lower partials with the fifth and ninth partials being louder than lower ones, including the fundamental, and all higher partials gradually trailing off in amplitude. Each partial is approximated to the nearest quarter tone. A low bass reinforces the fundamental an octave lower on the open E1 string which is central to Les Espaces Acoustiques cycle of which Partiels is a part.

The piece also makes use of sum and difference tones to create harmonies. [source]

Performed by Ensemble Court-Circuit conducted by Pierre-André Valade.

Accordion – Myrim Bonnin / Cello – Antoine Ladrette / Clarinet – Eric Lamberger,  Olivier Voize, Pierre Dutrieu / Contrabass – Didier Meu / Flute – Catherine Bowie, Marine Pérez / French Horn – Jean-Christophe Vervoitte , Jean-Michel Tavernier / Oboe – Hélène Devilleneuve / Percussion – Jean Geoffroy , Eve Payeur / Viola – Chrstine Bowie, Gérard Caussé , Pascal Robault / Violin – Eiichi Chijiiwa, Nicolas Miribel.

[A guide to Gérard Grisey’s music]



Gérard Grisey – Les Chants de l’Amour (1984)

Le Chants de l’Amour for 12 voices and tape Gérard Grisey (1984). Duration: 35:23.

Les Chants de l’Amour, was completed in 1984. It was Grisey’s first large-scale vocal composition, and here the dramatisation of musical material that occurs throughout his instrumental work is very overt, within the context of a ‘music theatre’. With its chattering and countrapuntal vocals, for the most part unintelligible, this is a work that, if any, serves to belie the usual thought that spectral music simply corresponds to an over-technical extravagance of harmony. What is shown again here is that power ofdescription that was a major concern of Grisey, and which explodes in a piece that does not rely on any stereotypically ‘spectral’-orchestral tenets. [source]

I:      8:19
II:     7:24
III:   5:06
IV:  10:08
V:     4:24

Performed by Schola Heidelberg conducted by Walter Nussbaum.