Tristan Murail, “After-Thoughts,” in Contemporary Music Review (19.3):
Murail is an interesting figure, a student of Messiaen, he’s teaching composition at Columbia, I think. Here’s his more recent piece called L’esprit des dunes:
And here’s Boulez’s Rituel with explanation by Sir Simon Rattle:
I watched the first Muriel, liked much of it except this sort of thing tends to just ‘move on’ without developing, or so it seemed on first hearing. Knowing it’s called ‘L’esprit des dunes’ is very helpful, because it’s definitely better than the score of Lawrence of Arabia for ‘tone pictures’, etc.
Excellent video of Battle/Boulez Rituel. I’ve known the piece for years, have a recording of it, but paid more attention to ‘Eclat’, on same disc. The background was very useful–curious he didn’t mention Cage, who probably did more with Indonesian gamalan music than any of the others, didn’t he? with all that prepared piano (I’ve never cared too much for that). There’s this hierarchy, and these ‘toney’ composers don’t give enough credit to Harry Partch and his amazing instruments (I’ve heard these in concert conducted by Dean Drummond, who has ‘custody’ of them). He lived like a hobo part of the time, but some of the stuff, like ‘Cloud Chamber Music’ is not New Age shit. Too many of the serious European composers want stark, glinting math-sounds (literally in the case of Xennakis) or at least very systematized (as in all early Boulez even). But those vehicles in black and white through the churchyards are very moving–one of the most unusual visual accompaniments to a serious piece of music I’ve seen. I realized I’d never known who Maderna was, don’t know any of his music. Saw he worked a lot with Berio. All those of that ‘old vanguard’ are dead except Boulez, it seems. At least the biggest names.
That Ensemble InterContemporain/BBC Orchestra Boulez record (Rituel/Éclats/Multiples) is great, unless you mean some other CD, as all three pieces are quite interesting.
I also liked the explanation very much, even if I don’t always like to read too much into these contemporary pieces: on the one hand, I simply don’t know enough about contemporary music (there’s just so much interesting stuff), on the other hand, and it’s probably stupid, but I tend to listen to new music first and then do research, if I like it, and if not, I’ll just skip to the next thing.
I’ve recently enjoyed Kaija Saariaho – have you heard her music much? She premiered a couple of operas lately that aren’t recorded yet, but her instrumental music is great.
I don’t know much about Harry Partch, I might have to look into it. What would be a good starting point?