Mp3 Blog #60: Gérard Grisey 2

Gérard Grisey:
”Dérives” (1973-74)
For Orchestra in Two Groups
Performed by the Orchestre National de France conducted by Jacques Mercier
Currently out of print

”Talea (ou la machine et les herbes folles)” (1986)
For Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano
Performed by the Ensemble Reserche
Inexplicably unavailable in the USA

“Quatre Chants pour franchir le Seuil:” (1997-98)
Faux Interlude – Le Mort de l’humanite
For soprano and fifteen instruments
Performed by
Available on this compact disc

* * * * *

Since I’ve previously written a long entry on Grisey I’m mostly going to let his music speak for itself this time. For this entry I’ve chosen three pivotal works, each of which was written about twelve years after the former, to demonstrate the various stages of Grisey’s personal development.

The first work “Dérives” for an orchestra in two groups (a sinfonietta and a standard larger orchestra) preceded one of the defining works of the spectral movement – Grisey’s “Partiels.” I’m actually posting “Dérives” following a suggestion from Julian Anderson (who has wrote a great little “provisional history of Spectral Music” for Contemporary Music Review a few years ago) who says that this piece is a “very fine and far too little know piece” (as the lack of digital recordings attests) and “possibly [Grisey’s] first characteristic work.”

“Talea (ou la machine et les herbes folles)” was written right after Grisey completed his 90 minute cycle of piece “Les Espaces Acoustiques.” For “Talea” Grisey began to move away from the mostly amorphous rhythmic motion of his earlier works by experimenting, for the first time, with micro-rhythmic materials.

The last two selections are the last two sections from Grisey’s last (and possibly finest) work – “Quatre Chants pour franchir le Seuil.” This work largely represents a seamless synthesis of Grisey’s earlier compositional techniques and experiments with an eerie spiritual core to create a compositional that both immediately moving and, afterwards, frightfully haunting.

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