Music for Quarter-tone Pianos

IVAN WYSCHNEGRADSKY (1893-1979): Fragment symphonique No. 4 for Ondes Martenot and 4 Pianos, Op. 38c, Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra for 4 Pianos, Op. 17, Méditation sur 2 thèmes de “La Journée de l’Existence” for Cello and Semi-tone Piano, Op. 7, ALAIN MOËNE (b.1942): De l’Ange for 2 Pianos, ALAIN BANCQUART (b.1934): Racines for 4 Pianos.

Catalogue Number: 04T053

Label: Shiin

Reference: 10

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: This disc is essentially an acknowledgment of Wyschnegradsky's pre-eminence in quarter-tone composition of works that actually use the scale as a consistent part of a vocabulary that expresses musical ideas first and foremost, not just as an end in itself. The Bancquart and especially the Moëne are skilled exercises in the genre, both written for this recording, but while certainly interesting, both composers seem to be proving a point, and despite the stated intent of doing away with the relationships of the twelve-tone scale, the pieces sound more as timbral exercises than anything else. Wyschnegradsky was already well past this point in his Op.17 of 1930, the fantastical Thus Spake Zarathustra (the largest work here), superbly written for two sets of two pianos, enriched to quasi-orchestral density of harmonic incident by the interlocking quarter-tone sequences of chords and melodic lines. The work is based on a cyclic set of themes, and its dramatic development is, dare one say, easy to follow, with a well defined sense of direction. No less a figure than Messiaen wrote a marvellous, perceptive appreciation of the concert in which the work was premiered, saying: "Here there are not only melodic contours known and appreciated by the Hindus alone, but also absolutely new harmonic material, which brings us prisms, chord clusters, dense carillons, ethereal garlands." which serves admirably as a summary of Wyschnegradsky's genius in general. Noé Natorp (cello), Cécile Lartigau (ondes Martenot), Martine Joste and 10 others (pianos), Léo Margue (conductor).


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