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1-1 	Comme Un Oeil Suspendu Et Poli Par Le Songe... (1967) 	5:14

Estuaire (1972) 	
1-2 	Pres Des Rives 	4:00
1-3 	Au Melange Des Eaux 	5:26
1-4 	Territoires De L`Oubli (1977) 	28:39
1-5 	Cloches D'Adieu, Et Un Sourire... (In Memoriam Olivier Messiaen) (1992) 	4:00
1-6 	La Mandragore (1993) 	9:14

Les Travaux Et Les Jours (2003) 	
2-1 	First Part 	4:06
2-2 	Second Part 	4:20
2-3 	Third Part 	7:08
2-4 	Fourth Part 	2:55
2-5 	Fifth Part 	2:53
2-6 	Sixth Part 	2:43
2-7 	Seventh Part 	2:57
2-8 	Eighth Part 	7:43
2-9 	Ninth Part 	4:28

Marilyn Nonken - piano


Many years ago a friend of mine working as a copyist for Universal Edition was involved in the publication of some of Murail's chamber music. She said that in her estimation Murail was a composer of real significance. However it has proved quite difficult to hear much of his music either on the BBC or on CD. To make some amends we now have the complete piano music dating from between 1967 when the composer was still a student through to 2003. This covers a period of thirty-six very significant years. Across that period we see charted the composer's progress and development in one very telling and disciplined medium: the piano. So what can you expect to hear?

Murail was a pupil of Messiaen and won the Prix de Rome in 1971. The early Comme un oeil suspendu et poli par le songe ("Like an eye hung and polished by the dream" - my translation) is described in the press notices as 'newly discovered'. It is not much more than a clone of his teacher in its harmonic progressions and rhythms. However there is also a feeling of something beyond Messiaen which climaxes twenty-five years later in the beautiful brief Cloches d'adieu, et un sourire ("Farewell bells and a smile"). This is a wistful and thankful farewell to his teacher which, although showing his influence, has most certainly moved on significantly and become a more personal statement. What had happened in between?

One important development was Murail's work in the electronic music field. In the eighties he started using computer technology to further his research into acoustic phenomena. From 1991 to 1997 he worked at IRCAM and helped to develop the 'patchwork' composition programme. This influence has fed into creating a style now known as 'spectral music'. The meaning is difficult to pin down but the best description I can give is: a recorded pure sound is transformed in a way which makes it entirely different from its starting point. The full range of acoustic sounds is used from the highest to the lowest. The way this can be transposed to the piano can be heard in the textures of the forty minute span of Les Travaux et les Jours (Works and Days). This divides into nine manageable sections which are inter-related but which each display a different sound-world. Number six reminded me of Ligeti with its falling cascades of scales tumbling at slightly different speeds - all quite beautiful. The third movement also intrigued me, consisting at first, of a repetition of long-held Messiaen-like chords (quite a finger-print this throughout the disc) with gentle splinters above. This then evolves into a shower of notes which, bird-like, flutter overhead and then combine with the original chords. The composer's own programme notes which accompany this double CD comment that there are "nine independent pieces, but minutely intertwined. The music revolves around a B-C tremolando and is supported by a low F which is only fully unveiled at the end of the cycle". One is, as it were, left in suspended animation. I found it quite gripping. More so in fact than the thirty minute Territoires de l'Oubli (Lands of Oblivion). The younger composer here does not quite bring off his scheme where he is trying out new 'acoustical phenomena’. He uses gentle repetition of a low D sharp over a major 7th with harmonies clarifying and then vanishing into the sustaining pedal. The composer talks of acoustic interference which "modifies and enriches the colour". But with its opening tremolando crescendo the piece demonstrates that peculiar French sensibility to sound for the sake of sheer pleasure - total sensuousness. The sounds create the form if there is one at all; a state which Debussy (and for that matter Dutilleux) might have ideally wanted in his piano music. I have to say that this piece takes too long in creating its final culminatory experience.

Estuaire divides into two movements. The first, Près des rives (By the riverside) is the shorter one and demonstrates another aspect of Murail's colour scheme. This one is darker, sterner and even, more violent. Its successor, Au mélange des eaux (On the blending of the waters) is left to brood on its consequences. Neither piece outstays its welcome and as a whole the work makes a strong impression.

Finally La Mandragore ('The Mandrake' - a magic, wild plant) inhabits a similar sinister sound-world to Près des rives. It is remarkable in its use of bass sonorities and in the repetition of one particular chord. At nine minutes or so it just reaches its right length before vanishing.

I have lived with this music, all new to me, for a month, and I am sure that my time has not been wasted. While listening I am constantly possessed by an impression of something beyond the world, not conventionally religious, but spiritual. This is music to which I shall be happy to return.

I have reviewed several Métier discs over the last few years and find that the recordings are often not of the best quality. However on this occasion there is nothing between the music and the listener; that can only be considered an accolade.

As for the performances you can rest assured that in Marilyn Nonken we are hearing a musician of outstanding qualities. It is evident that she knows, strongly characterises and loves this music. She has performed it and many other 'difficult' contemporary works all over the world and is a pianist in whom we can trust. Her mastery of Murail's sonorities and her virtuosity are truly remarkable and demand attention. ---Gary Higginson,

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]]> (bluesever) Murail Tristan Fri, 24 Aug 2018 13:36:01 +0000
Tristan Murail: Serendib - L'esprit des dunes - Désintegrations (1996) Tristan Murail: Serendib - L'esprit des dunes - Désintegrations (1996)

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1. Serendib
2. L’Esprit Des Dunes
3. Desintegrations

Ensemble Intercontemporain
David Robertson - conductor


Tristan Murail (ur. 11 marca 1947 w Le Havre) - kompozytor francuski, twórca - razem z Gérardem Griseyem - Ensemble l'Itinéraire, uważany za ojca muzyki spektralnej; główny reprezentant tego kierunku, wspólnie z Griseyem i Horatiu Radulescu.

Student Oliviera Messiaena (1967-1971), stypendysta Villi Medicich (1971-1973); na jego rozwój muzyczny ogromny wpływ miało spotkanie z Giacinto Scelsim. Jego ważniejsze dzieła to Mémoire/Erosion (1976), Gondwana (1980), Désintégrations (1980), cykl Random Access Memory (1984-1987), Serendib (1992), L'Ésprit des dunes (1993-1994).


Tristan Murail (born March 11, 1947 in Le Havre, France) is a French composer.

Murail studied composition with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire from 1967 to 1972. He taught computer music at the Paris Conservatoire and composition at IRCAM in Paris, where he assisted in the development of the Patchwork composition software. In 1973 he was a founding member of the Ensemble l'Itinéraire. Since 1997 he has been a professor of composition at Columbia University in New York City.

Major pieces by Murail include large orchestral pieces such as Gondwana, Time and Again and, more recently, Serendib and L'esprit des dunes. Other pieces include his Désintégrations for 17 instruments and tape, Mémoire/Erosion for french horn and nine instruments Ethers for flute and ensemble, and Vampyr! for electric guitar. Murail also composed a set of solo pieces for various instruments in his cycle Random Access Memory, of which the sixth, Vampyr!, is a rare classical piece for electric guitar. Vampyr! is one of several works in Murail's catalogue that do not employ spectral techniques. Rather, in the performance notes, the composer asks the performer to play the piece in the manner of guitarists in the popular and rock traditions, such as Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton.

This Accord CD features performances of three pieces by Tristan Murail recorded at IRCAM in the early 1990s. David Robertson leads the Ensemble Intercontemporain. "Desintegrations" for ensemble and tape (1983) is one of the great spectralist masterpieces, endlessly studied and called by many later composers a milestone in new music. As the title suggests, the musical material is based entirely on sound spectras. Murail decomposed various instrumental sounds (especially piano, brass and cello) into their overtones, and then assigned these to the performers, while the tape part is based on artificial spectra generated by electronics. The result is a massive sound mass, sure to appeal to fans of Xenakis and Ligeti. It's quite varied too, with among many other things lovely section of bell chimes, some crunching orchestral sounds, and an ear-tickling exhibition of interference tones. This recording beats that by the Ensemble L'itinerarire on an Naive disc.

Murail's second IRCAM commission was "L'Esprit des dunes" for ensemble and live electronics (1992). A portrait of the desert with its soft woodwind drifts, the piece is also based on analysis of recordings of traditional music from Tibet, including their remarkable trumpets and drums, and from Mongolia, where one finds the jew's harp and overtone singing. One immediately notices here more melodic writing, as the piece opens with a sinuous oboe line. Ultimately this is a piece that fascinates me and which I'd really like to like, but I just can't seem to get into it. Some of the electronic transformations are interesting, but Murail's inspirations don't seem integrated well into the final form, and the piece just sort of meanders. "Serendib" for orchestra (1992) is a bit better, a constant flurry. Still, I sometimes feel that Murail is just repeating the gestures of "Desintegrations" without moving towards something boldly new. ---Christopher Culver

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]]> (bluesever) Murail Tristan Mon, 16 May 2011 19:14:59 +0000