Pierre Boulez

Boulez: Sur Incises; Messagesquisse; Anthèms 2

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If one characteristic stands out in the contemporary works of Pierre Boulez, it is the remarkable depths of sonority he achieves through methods of multiplication and elaboration. In their unique ways, the three pieces on this Deutsche Grammophon release are intensely wrought complexes of layered timbres, reiterated attacks, and mirrored motifs, and even the untrained listener can discern how ideas chase each other back and forth, replicate, and build up vast networks of textures and colors. Whether it is the rapid-fire interplay of three pianos, three harps, and three percussion keyboards in Sur Incises (1996/1998); the obsessive imitation of one solo cello by six other cellos in Messagesquisse (1976-1977); or the hallucinatory electronic looping of a solo violin in Anthèmes 2 (1997), Boulez creates music that impresses with its consistency, dazzles with its relentless inventiveness, and provokes thought with its transparently audible processes. One need not know all the minutiae of these cutting-edge compositions to clearly perceive what is going on, and anybody with an interest in contemporary instrumental and electronic music will find these pieces compelling. The performances by cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, violinist Hae Sun Kang, and soloists of the Ensemble InterContemporain are breathtaking in their virtuosity, and they may be regarded as authoritative since this album was produced under the composer's supervision.

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