Mp3 Blog #18: “Comme un Silène Entr-ouvert”

Denys Bouliane:
”Comme un Silène Entr’ouvert” (1983-85)
For piccolo, oboe, bass clarinet, trombone, piano, harp, contrabass, and tape

Performed by the Ensemble Köln

Available for purchase on this C.D. which features two other works by Denys Bouliane

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Denys Bouliane is another one of the better living Canadian composers. Although his music is not widely known in the U.S.A. he is highly regarded in Canada and, even more so, in Germany (where he spends some of his time in Cologne). Denys currently teaches composition and directs the Contemporary Music Ensemble (C.M.E.) at McGill. A wonderfully gracious man, his sponsored C.M.E. after-concert parties are almost legendary amongst McGill contemporary music performers and composers.

Since coming to McGill, I’ve had the pleasure of performing electronics and sound diffusion with Denys in concerts with the C.M.E., the Caput Ensemble, and Court-Circuit. He also magnificently conducted the world premiere of my extraordinarily difficult work for 11 players and live electronics – ”Time Fixtures”.

Denys writes incredibly imaginative music that has been dubbed a sort “musical magical realism.” In the early 80’s, he studied with the infamously difficult György Ligeti who later described Denys, along with Benedict Mason, as one of his two favorite students. It was during this time in Cologne that Denys developed a voice that depends upon a personalized collections of modes that, to use his description, “alludes but never quotes.” Interestingly enough, a number of Ligeti’s works from that same period (particularly the piano etude “Fanfares” and parts of the Horn Trio) sound remarkably similar in style to Denys.

“Comme un Silène Entr-ouvert” (“Like Silenus Opening”) is, in my opinion, one of Denys’ strangest and most imaginative works. The composition is based upon the Greek myth of the satyr Silenus and follows a path from the extraverted to the introverted. Compositionally the ensemble is mostly broken into two trios – one high (piccolo, oboe, and harp) and one low (bass clarinet, trombone, and contrabass) while, in contrast, the tape – which is made of pitch-shift recordings from the ensemble – and the piano represent the bridge between these different trios and worlds.

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