TRISTAN MURAIL (b.1947): Le Partage des eaux for Large Orchestra, Contes cruels for 2 Electric Guitars and Orchestra, Sillages for Large Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 05Q077
Reference: AECD 1222
Description: These pieces span some two decades, and showcase Murail's evolution as one of the most consistently interesting of the Spectralists, drawing inspiration from complex physical processes - chaos, the interactions of particles and forces etc. - and deriving the means to illustrate these concepts from the scientific analysis of acoustic phenomena. "The Parting of the Waters" - nothing to do with the Red Sea and the Israelites, the composer points out - is based on harmonic analysis of the sounds of ocean waves. The microtonal intervals necessary for the close intervals of the upper partials of the harmonic series are provided by the strings and a synthesizer, the latter emulating microtonal tunings of other instruments. The work consists of continuously evolving undulations of sound, organized with great attention to the detail of orchestral color. Murail has never fully shaken off the mantle of Messiaen - there are worse models after all - and his harmonies remain at times strikingly reminiscent of those arrived at by his mentor's inner harmonic analysis of natural sounds and timbres. "Cruel Tales", inspired by short stories by the 19th-century author Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, adds two electric guitars, tuned a quarter-tone apart and subjected to a range of modulating effects, to the orchestra. Sillages is a meditation on Japanese rock gardens with their patterns of concentric circles, curves and wave-shapes. These fluid forms composed of grains and blocks of hard, solid material find a sonic analogy in Murail's intricately traced linear sonorities, polyrhythmic and microtonally inflected, while site-specific references to Japanese instruments and an harmonic analysis of the sirens of the trams of the city of Kyoto provides an indefinable sense of local color. Wiek Hijmans, Seth Josel (guitars), BBC Symphony Orchestra (Le Partage), Netherlands Radio Philharmonic; Pierre-André Valade.