Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Boulez, Haubenstock-Ramati, Maderna - The New Music, Vol 2 (1968)

The term "modern music" no longer suffices to describe the latest expressions of recent avant-garde composers. Modern music still means the music that came after Debussy and Strauss. It is Stravinsky and Ravel, Hindemith and Falla; it is Bartók, Prokofieff, Britten and Malipiero. Modern music is the breakdown of tonality and traditional harmony and the development of the twelve-tone system by the masters of the Viennese school—Schönberg, Berg and Webern—and the spreading of this method in every country since the war. Modern music is still Dallapiccola and Petrassi, and the ready listener has little by little grown accustomed to all these expressions—the more recent ones (those relating to the relinquishing of traditional tonality) with somewhat greater difficulty.

But the works of the latest generation, those composers who have come to the fore since Hiroshima, seem to cut away violently from this pattern, as difficult as its acceptance had proved to be. So, for them the term "new music."

The evolution which has led to today's baffling results is governed by an inner logic. Once the use of the twelve-tone "series" was firmly established, the desire quite naturally arose to extend this serialization process to the other "parameters" of music, that is, to subject its rhythmic, timbral and dynamic aspects to the same laws governing the disposition of the pitch of the notes.

"Structuring" (the organization of musical material) by means of total serialization of parameters was the first step the new music took beyond Webern. This extension of the serialization process to all parameters brought about a heightening of interest and investigation into the qualities and components of sound. The increased concern for this "tone color" and other hitherto unstructured aspects of sound and the diminishing interest in pitch as the primary structural element made it necessary to alter traditional listening habits. Where pitch distribution had been the primary expressive unit, now the other parameters took on equal or greater importance.

The new music, like all other forms of contemporary art, may or may not be liked, but its consistency cannot be questioned. There is an inner logic which has determined the various phases described above and which is already creating others in more and more rapid succession, and they must not be taken as gratuitous and unrestrained expressions of individual extravagance.

Pierre Boulez was born in Montbrison (Loire) in 1925; he studied science, and then music, first with Andrée Vaurabourg-Honegger, then at the Paris Conservatory with Olivier Messiaen, who revealed the possibilities of a new music, inculcating him with his own interest in rhythmic organization and modal harmony. In 1945-46 Boulez was introduced to the twelve-tone system by Rene Leibowitz. He also worked for some time in Pierre Schaeffer's "musique concrète" studio at the French Radio. In 1948 he was named music director of J. L. Barrault's repertory company and in 1954 founded the Domaine Musical concert series, in which the new music was first introduced into France. From 1960 to 1963 he taught musical analysis at the Basel Conservatory; he was then appointed chief conductor of the Südwestfunk Orchester, Baden-Baden. Currently he divides his time between composing and conducting. He has written works for a variety of vocal and instrumental forces, solos and ensembles.

Boulez was one of the first and most lucid composers to recognize the distinct difference in artistic approach between Schönberg and Webern. He took the lead from the latter in order to transcend traditional dodecaphony and forge ahead toward the new ideal of a "structure" through the total serialization of all aspects of the composition. This ideal he fostered and sustained not only in his own music but also as a conductor and through his teaching and writings. But Boulez by no means holds himself up as a leveler of music's historical evolution; on the contrary, he has roots firmly planted in tradition.

Sonatine was composed in 1946 and is therefore an early work, whose style the composer has already left far behind in the course of his unceasing evolution. The serial organization is orthodox. but the work preserves intact its prodigious freshness and originality. It displays the almost insolent vigor of youth, rhythmic hustle and a self-willed determination of form which forces the various episodes (basically three, with a middle scherzando) into the framework of a single, uninterrupted, intensely taut movement. The relative brevity of the composition should not deceive. It is brevity through compression, and the framework seems on the verge of bursting, such is the compactness and intensity of its material. The flute is used in a strange and savage way, with prodigious leaps, in sudden volleys bristling with peaks and points and constant rhythmic jolts. And yet it attains a fusion of tone color and an interplay with the piano that is quite miraculous.

Roman Haubenstock-Ramati was burn in 1919 in Cracow; he studied philosophy and musicology at the universities of Cracow and Lwów and composition under Artur Malawski and Josef Koffler. Head of the music section of Radio Cracow between 1947 and 1950, he then became an Israeli citizen and was put in charge of the State Music Library in Tel Aviv. Since 1956 he has lived mostly in Vienna, where he is consultant to Universal Edition. His principal compositions include Recitative and Aria, for harpsichord and orchestra (1954); Les Symphonies de timbres, composed in 1957 in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel; Credentials, for speech-voice and eight players (1960), and various electronic works.

Interpolation was written in 1958 for the Darmstadt summer course, to be played by Severino Gazzelloni. It varies in length from a minimum of four to a maximum of twelve minutes, depending upon whether it is played by one flute or by two or three; by recording the different versions, which are superimposed in succeeding layers, one soloist can perform the one for three flutes, as in this recording.

The piece consists of six "formants"—brief melodic elements, provided with variants—which are performed as originally formulated, or in reverse, shifting from one to the other in accordance with the indications of certain arrows and dotted lines in the score. The distribution of "formants"—their duration, juxtaposition and superposition—is free and is to be decided by the interpreter. The aleatory principle is here placed at the disposal of what might be termed a study of melody. All the technical resources of the instrument are called for in the invention of jagged melodic figures. When two or three flutes start to be heard, two-part song effects appear; the work ends in an onrush of extremely lively twitterings, like the flight of birds.

Bruno Maderna was born in Venice in 1920; he studied composition with Alessandro Bustini and Malipiero and conducting with Guarnieri and Scherchen. He received his degree in composition in Rome in 1941. His activities have included teaching summer classes in Darmstadt, a series of open lectures in twelve-tone composition at the Milan Conservatory (1957-58) and, with Luciano Berio, the direction of the Studio di Fonologia Musicale at Milan Radio. By establishing himself as one of the prominent conductors of the younger generation he has rendered an important and inestimable service in the dissemination of the new music. These activities, however, have not stopped hint from composing, where he reveals a poetic feeling, an elemental delight in the materials of sound and a typically Italian lyricism, capable of moving unscathed through the temptations of highly abstruse theories and modern experimentations. Many of his works employ conventional instruments; others combine these with magnetic tapes, and still others are purely electronic.
The Oboe Concerto was written in 1962 and dedicated to Lothar Faber. In the introduction, in pointillistic style, the oboe's isolated notes are combined with equally isolated notes in strings, then in piano, harp and celesta. After a short, restless orchestral interlude the first of the six cadenzas of which the Concerto is composed appears, punctuated by the orchestra. Except for an episode in the second cadenza where percussion is active and one passage in the fifth cadenza where the strings gain the advantage, the cadenzas are almost always consonant with the poetic and melancholy mood of the oboe timbre. Neither the severity of the structures nor the limited areas of aleatory freedom left to the conductor (mostly involving the length of some of the bands of sound or one or two percussion interludes) succeed in even slightly marring the work's inner quality of expression. It might be described as even romantic, firmly rooted in the instrumental timbre of the oboe and the English horn, which replaces the oboe in the final cadenza.

Adapted from notes by MASSIMO MILA
Track List:

  1. Sonatine for Flute and Piano (12:58)
Severino Gazzelloni, Flute
Frederick Rzewski, Piano

  1. Interpolation, Mobile for Flute (1, 2 and 3) (4:51)
Severino Gazzelloni, Flute

  1. Concerto for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra (18:48)
Lothar Faber, Oboe
Soloists of the Rome Symphony Orchestra, Bruno Maderna, Conductor

Download Link: Enjoy the Music!

Recordings of music by Pierre Boulez:
 Recordings of music by Roman Haubenstock-Ramati:
Recordings of music by Bruno Maderna:

No comments:

Post a Comment