PIERRE BOULEZ (1925-2016): Prélude, Toccata et Scherzo (World Premiere Recording), 12 Notations, Une page d’éphéméride, OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908-1992): 2 excerpts from Des canyons aux étoiles, La Fauvette passerinette, Morceau de lecture à vue, CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918): Étude retrouvée, Les Soirs illuminées par l’ardeur du charbon, MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937): Menuet in C Sharp Minor.

Catalogue Number: 06V053

Label: Naxos

Reference: 8.573894

Format: CD

Price: $11.98

Description: Seldom-heard and recently discovered works by composers who had an influence on Pierre Boulez, as well as the premiere recording of Boulez’s 1944 Prélude, Toccata et Scherzo. This large-scale (27 minutes!) work looks back on virtuosic Romantic music, while at the same time exploring the new compositional styles that Boulez would subsequently embrace. The work is a testimony to the young composer’s gifts of invention, featuring extremes in dynamics, register and pianistic demands. While the Prélude echoes the piano writing of his primary role models (Messiaen, Honegger and Jolivet) with its irrational rhythms, gamelan-like harmonies and somber, expressive character, the Toccata foreshadows the later Boulez: it drives a fugal theme (containing sections of all twelve tones of the chromatic scale) to explosive outbursts in between rather rhapsodic interpolations which borrow the interval structures from the theme. The closing Scherzo also consists of two contrasting elements: a volatile percussive theme alternating with a static melodic theme accompanied by bell-like chords. This movement is highly structured, with both melodic and harmonic material derived from a rising seven-note motif which is repeatedly audible in the right hand throughout the movement, with rhythmic interjections in the left hand. Among the other rarities is a posthumously discovered piano study by Debussy, a reconstructed birdsong work by Messiaen, and a tiny masterpiece by Ravel found in a notebook. Ralph van Raat (piano).

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