GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: mahlertitan on June 07, 2007, 08:53:16 PM

Title: Edgard Varese
Post by: mahlertitan on June 07, 2007, 08:53:16 PM
any thoughts?
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: edward on June 08, 2007, 03:33:09 AM
A very fine, if somewhat circumscribed figure. Everything You Need (tm) is on that Chailly set.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: karlhenning on June 08, 2007, 03:44:55 AM
Short catalogue, and quite a specific patch of musical turf.  But within that orbit, how richly lived.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on June 08, 2007, 05:12:44 AM
I like Varese, he is certainly different. He is quite listenable actually, much less harsh on the ears than Penderecki let's say.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: greg on June 08, 2007, 05:22:47 AM
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=varese
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: karlhenning on June 08, 2007, 05:25:58 AM
I like Varese, he is certainly different. He is quite listenable actually, much less harsh on the ears than Penderecki let's say.

We're veering onto a tangent, but FWIW, I found the Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima much more engaging and ear-friendly when I heard it live and in the space, than when I've heard any recording.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Brewski on June 08, 2007, 10:52:35 AM
The Chailly set is superb, and includes Tuning Up, which may not be the most profound music, but is well worth hearing.  But much of the rest is fantastic: I don't think I've ever heard Arcana, Amériques and others performed so beautifully and with such energy. 

Poème électronique was one of the first 20th-century pieces I ever heard, as part of a contemporary music series presented by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra back in the 1970s. 

And just last weekend, at about 3:00 a.m., I heard Ionisation by red fish blue fish, the new music group based at the University of California, San Diego.  I hadn't heard it live in a very long time, and what a marvelous kaleidoscope of percussion effects it is!

--Bruce
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: mahlertitan on June 09, 2007, 09:45:30 AM
varese was a unique and colorful composer...the chailly set is OK, some unnecessary filler on it....i much prefer the Sony Boulez recording, it's got everything needed right there, and so well done...

So, you are saying that more is not good?
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: greg on June 09, 2007, 01:22:31 PM
The Chailly set is superb, and includes Tuning Up, which may not be the most profound music, but is well worth hearing. 
(that's one of my favorite Varese)  :-X

(i guess not everything has to be profound to be good)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on July 22, 2008, 12:08:37 PM
Anyone seen this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TStutMsLX2s) video of Boulez conducting Ionisation? I think I can name like one or two instruments at most.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: some guy on July 22, 2008, 12:20:14 PM
Mehta's (premiere?) recording of Arcana with the L.A. Phil is still the one to beat, I think.

I don't really disagree with James' opinion about the Boulez, but I must say that I felt a lot better when I had gotten several different recordings of Varèse. (I prefer Lyndon-Gee's performance of Arcana over Boulez's or Chailly's--but that may say more about me than about Varèse!)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: pjme on July 22, 2008, 01:07:58 PM
Volume 2 is out and gets very good reviews:

(http://www.naxos.com/SharedFiles/Images/cds/557882.gif) from Naxos:

The works on this recording span Varèse’s entire career, containing his sole surviving early composition, Un grand Sommeil noir, and his last, unfinished work, Nocturnal, brilliantly and seamlessly completed by the composer’s disciple and assistant during the last seventeen years of his life, the composer Chou Wen-Chung. Chiefly, though, the recording features the original version of Amériques, for a massive orchestra of 155 players, recorded immediately following a rare public performance at the Warsaw Philharmonic (only its second since the 1920s) as part of the 2005 Warsaw Autumn Festival.



   Ameriques
 
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Lyndon-Gee, Christopher, Conductor
 

Ameriques  00:23:55
   Ecuatorial
 
 Thomas Bloch,, ondes Martenot
Camerata Silesia
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Lyndon-Gee, Christopher, Conductor
 

Ecuatorial  00:10:27
   Nocturnal
 
Watts, Elisabeth, soprano
Camerata Silesia

Nocturnal  00:09:24
   Dance for Burgess
 
Dance for Burgess  00:01:44
   Tuning Up (completed by Chou Wen-chung)
 
Tuning Up (completed by Chou Wen - chung)  00:04:50
   Hyperprism
 

Hyperprism  00:03:48
   Un grand sommeil noir
 
Watts, Elisabeth, soprano
Lyndon-Gee, Christopher, piano
 

Un grand sommeil noir  00:02:59
   Density 21.5
 
Grochowska, Maria, flute
 

Density 21.5  00:04:43
   Ionisation
 
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra percussion ensemble
Lyndon-Gee, Christopher, Conductor
 

Ionisation  00:05:24

Jean Martinon and the CHicago SO can be heard in a terrific performance of Arcana on RCA ( coupled with Bartok)

Poème électronique was conceived for the Philips pavilion (Le corbusier and Iannis Xenakis architects) at the 1958 Brussels World Fair. Several exhibitions commemorate the "Expo 58" - At Mechlin's new "Lamot exhibition site" a series of new and /or original maquettes of the buildings can be seen -and Poème électronique can be heard.

(http://randomknowledge.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/philipsexpo58.jpg)
 
 
 
 
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 22, 2008, 02:36:37 PM
Arcana and Amériques have been firm favourites with me for decades now.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: greg on July 22, 2008, 03:12:16 PM
Anyone seen this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TStutMsLX2s) video of Boulez conducting Ionisation? I think I can name like one or two instruments at most.
Yep, there's two I know of on youtube and have viewed both several times each, had one on my myspace page for awhile (the other version) and i think i might possibly even like that version better- maybe just because it sounds more powerful.
Anyone else ever think of ruins of a city or something like that at the ending?........ something about the low piano cluster and tubular bell combination......
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Kullervo on July 22, 2008, 08:50:30 PM
Am I the only person that wishes they could go back in time and prevent the score of Bourgogne from being consigned to the brenning pit?  :D
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: pjme on July 23, 2008, 12:54:29 AM
Am I the only person that wishes they could go back in time and prevent the score of Bourgogne from being consigned to the brenning pit?  :D

No of course not!
Do you think that black magic could be of any use? Voodoo? A human sacrifice?
P.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: karlhenning on May 14, 2009, 10:02:09 AM
Without the flute, does the title make any sense?  8)

http://uk.youtube.com/v/hnh_VT6JIZQ
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: MDL on May 14, 2009, 12:36:43 PM
I got to know and love Varese via Boulez's NYPO recordings (on LP, with a fab gatefold sleeve from CBS). His first recordings of Arcana and Ameriques are so etched into my brain that I can't help but judge all subsequent recordings against them. Having said that, I've not heard the CD remasterings.

Boulez's DG Chicago remakes lack a bit of zip, although they're certainly spectacular.

Any takers for Nagano's French recordings? A bit "splashy", a bit sloppy, and I really didn't care for them when they were released over a decade ago, but I dug them out from the bottom of the pile a few months ago and actually quite liked the breezy thrill of the performances.

Library choice for me remains Chailly; stunning sound and performances that are weighty and punchy... But I'm fascinated by the sounds emerging from the two Naxos CDs, and what a bargain they are.

(I must try Mehta's Arcana again. Last time I tried it, two decades ago, I hated it.)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: snyprrr on May 17, 2009, 12:09:32 AM
Varese + Stravinsky = Xenakis
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: karlhenning on May 30, 2009, 04:23:38 AM
Boulez's DG Chicago remakes lack a bit of zip, although they're certainly spectacular.

Not quite the same thing . . . but the Chailly box does have a surprisingly smooth feel to it. (I like the box entirely, do not mistake me.)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Brewski on May 30, 2009, 10:32:10 AM
Not quite the same thing . . . but the Chailly box does have a surprisingly smooth feel to it. (I like the box entirely, do not mistake me.)

I think this is one of the reasons the Chailly collection has been so popular.  Between his conducting and the spectacular playing and recording, Varèse has rarely sounded so seductive.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Edgard Varèse
Post by: karlhenning on May 30, 2009, 01:22:17 PM
I'm looking forward to a Bugallo-Williams Duo (http://www.bugallowilliams.com/) recording of the eight-hands reduction of Amériques.  Heard them play it in Cambridge, and it was a blast!
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: karlhenning on June 12, 2009, 06:16:46 AM
(Of course, they play it with two other pianists, too.)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Dax on January 11, 2010, 08:24:13 AM
Here's the premiere of Déserts under Scherchen in 1954. A remarkable performance, especially for a premiere. The audience didn't really survive more than 11 minutes, if that.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/f64wj4
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Est.1965 on January 11, 2010, 08:38:10 AM
He was off his nut.   :o
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: petrarch on January 11, 2010, 09:01:49 AM
Here's the premiere of Déserts under Scherchen in 1954. A remarkable performance, especially for a premiere. The audience didn't really survive more than 11 minutes, if that.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/f64wj4

There is a very interesting tv documentary on Varèse that has a segment about the premiere of Déserts. A number of different people are interviewed (Odile Vivier, Xenakis) and they describe the event in a quite detailed way. You can hear the recording of the event in the background, including the laughs and shouts. That documentary also contains some footage of Varèse on video.
Title: Virtual reality reconstruction this Friday in New York
Post by: some guy on January 11, 2010, 11:45:10 AM
The following is a letter from Joel Chadabe of EMF about the upcoming show in New York. I hope it's OK to pass it on like this:

Hello all,

When Louis Kalff, an executive at Philips Corporation in Eindhoven, Holland, called Le Corbusier in Paris to invite him to design the Philips Pavilion for the Brussels World's Fair in 1958, Le Corbusier answered: "I shall not create a pavilion, but a poème électronique. Everything will happen inside: sound, light, color, rhythm ..."

Iannis Xenakis said, "They asked Le Corbusier to design something and Le Corbusier asked me to design something ..."

For a look at the building and general background, as well as upcoming events, please visit www.emfproductions.org



An Invitation

We'd like to invite you to a virtual-reality re-creation of the multimedia spectacle presented in the Philips Pavilion in 1958, with music by Iannis Xenakis and Edgard Varèse and images chosen by Le Corbusier.

It was one of the most important artistic moments in the 20th century. For the first time, music and image had been integrated with a space to create an immersive multimedia environment. And it was a great success. More than two million people visited the Pavilion and experienced the show.

The show is about 15 minutes in duration. The presentation will take place this coming Friday, January 15, at 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, and 9:30pm at Judson Church, 55 Washington Square South. The public admission is $1 per person per show at the door.



Another invitation

But more ... we'd like to invite you to a behind-the-scenes special fundraising event at 6pm, including the first public show.

The re-creation of the Philips Pavilion was conceived and directed by Vincenzo Lombardo, Professor of Informatics at the University of Turin, Italy. Professor Lombardo, in video, photographs, and sound, will take you through the historical detective work to demonstrate how the reconstruction of the Philips Pavilion and the multimedia show, with its music and images by Edgard Varèse, Iannis Xenakis, and Le Corbusier, was accomplished. He will guide you through a unique moment in our cultural history.

Admission is $50 for this special event. We'd be grateful for a more generous donation in support of our programs. If you're a student, donate what you can. To reserve a space, send an email to suzanne@emf.org.

To make an online payment, go to:

http://www.cdemusic.org/emf/emf-innercircle.cfm

Or call us at (888)749-9998.


Best,

Joel
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: greg on January 11, 2010, 01:22:56 PM
Here's the premiere of Déserts under Scherchen in 1954. A remarkable performance, especially for a premiere. The audience didn't really survive more than 11 minutes, if that.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/f64wj4
I wonder what some of them are saying?
The audience is extremely annoying, anyways...
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Kaiser on February 05, 2010, 12:36:00 PM
Here's the premiere of Déserts under Scherchen in 1954. A remarkable performance, especially for a premiere. The audience didn't really survive more than 11 minutes, if that.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/f64wj4

Wow! This is one supercharged performance. Very cool! Thanks for sharing. Here's a link to a fun article Frank Zappa wrote about how he discovered Varese's music:

http://rchrd.com/mfom/zappa-varese.html

When I re-read this article a few nights ago I was surprised to read the description of the LP - I've had  the same record in my collection for a couple of years now (rescued with a bunch of other records from a "freecycle" listing in my area) and had no idea this was Zappa's "holy grail" Varese record! My copy is in surprisingly good shape and sounds great. The record jacket makes note of the fact that the sessions were supervised by Varese himself. Kinda cool! Here's what the cover looks like:

Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Maciek on February 06, 2010, 07:31:57 AM
Volume 2 is out and gets very good reviews:

(http://www.naxos.com/SharedFiles/Images/cds/557882.gif) from Naxos:


I absolutely need to get this - if for no other reason, then simply because I am a die-hard fan of Camerata Silesia. (Not to mention the fact that Lyndon-Gee, a great promoter of Pawel Szymanski's music, also deserves my support. ;D ;D ;D)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Ugh on February 06, 2010, 03:26:49 PM
IMO Deserts was his absolute masterpiece - a long and painful decade-long compositional process culminating a scandalous radio premiere which nearly ended the funding for Schaeffer's electronic studios in Paris - where the interpolated recorded electronic parts were put together (of among other things recordings of a factory). Following the scandal, Varese apparently cried and was never invited to work in France again, nor was he content with the final product, having originally envisioned it as a large scale multi-media event (originally titled Espace).

For some reason, untypical of Varese, he did allow for performances of the work without the electronic interpolations - as on this recording:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51QSJ5Y6MNL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

But IMO this is somewhat incomprehensible as it makes the work lose its' novelty.
Title: Re: Virtual reality reconstruction this Friday in New York
Post by: Ugh on February 06, 2010, 03:28:43 PM
The following is a letter from Joel Chadabe of EMF about the upcoming show in New York. I hope it's OK to pass it on like this:

Hello all,

When Louis Kalff, an executive at Philips Corporation in Eindhoven, Holland, called Le Corbusier in Paris to invite him to design the Philips Pavilion for the Brussels World's Fair in 1958, Le Corbusier answered: "I shall not create a pavilion, but a poème électronique. Everything will happen inside: sound, light, color, rhythm ..."

Iannis Xenakis said, "They asked Le Corbusier to design something and Le Corbusier asked me to design something ..."

For a look at the building and general background, as well as upcoming events, please visit www.emfproductions.org



An Invitation

We'd like to invite you to a virtual-reality re-creation of the multimedia spectacle presented in the Philips Pavilion in 1958, with music by Iannis Xenakis and Edgard Varèse and images chosen by Le Corbusier.

It was one of the most important artistic moments in the 20th century. For the first time, music and image had been integrated with a space to create an immersive multimedia environment. And it was a great success. More than two million people visited the Pavilion and experienced the show.

The show is about 15 minutes in duration. The presentation will take place this coming Friday, January 15, at 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, and 9:30pm at Judson Church, 55 Washington Square South. The public admission is $1 per person per show at the door.



Another invitation

But more ... we'd like to invite you to a behind-the-scenes special fundraising event at 6pm, including the first public show.

The re-creation of the Philips Pavilion was conceived and directed by Vincenzo Lombardo, Professor of Informatics at the University of Turin, Italy. Professor Lombardo, in video, photographs, and sound, will take you through the historical detective work to demonstrate how the reconstruction of the Philips Pavilion and the multimedia show, with its music and images by Edgard Varèse, Iannis Xenakis, and Le Corbusier, was accomplished. He will guide you through a unique moment in our cultural history.

Admission is $50 for this special event. We'd be grateful for a more generous donation in support of our programs. If you're a student, donate what you can. To reserve a space, send an email to suzanne@emf.org.

To make an online payment, go to:

http://www.cdemusic.org/emf/emf-innercircle.cfm

Or call us at (888)749-9998.


Best,

Joel

Did you get a chance to go?
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: some guy on February 07, 2010, 02:30:44 PM
If I could have combined it with other things in New York and maybe Montreal, I would have gone.

I did fly from Portland, OR to San Francisco for a single concert once--which fortunately turned out to be one of the more exciting concerts of my life--but in S.F. I could stay with my cousin for free, and I combined that with a jaunt down to Santa Cruz to get an interview with David Cope.

Still. It was very tempting! I tried to get someone, anyone, to go to this, so I could live vicariously. But to no avail. :(
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Ugh on February 08, 2010, 10:56:43 AM
btw, I sent you a PM, did you get it?
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Kaiser on February 09, 2010, 08:10:09 PM
Zappa's last project bringing everything full circle was a production of Varèse works performed by the Ensemble Modern conducted by Peter Eötvös entitled The Rage & The Fury  Album & Movie... it hasn't seen the light of day yet unfortunately. According to Eötvös it's really phenomenal.

More info here >> http://globalia.net/donlope/fz/unreleased/The_Rage_And_The_Fury.html

Wow! Thanks for the link, James! I hadn't even heard of this recording / filming session. Hopefully this thing does make it out to the public and doesn't end up festering in the vault with so much other great stuff. A dvd would be magnificent, but I'd even settle for an audio-only release if it came to that. Goodness knows the ZFT has caught a lot of flak over the years (some justified) with regards to what gets released. But this Varese project just sounds too good to give up on!
----------- Chris
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: MDL on February 10, 2010, 03:47:42 AM
Here's a lazy cut'n'paste job from a post I made on the What Concerts Are You Looking Forward To? thread:

I've just booked all three concerts in the Southbank Centre's April Varèseathon:

April 16th, Queen Elizabeth Hall:

Edgard Varèse: Ionisation for 13 percussionists
Edgard Varèse: Equatorial for bass & ensemble
Edgard Varèse: Density 21.5 for solo flute
Edgard Varèse/Chou Wen-Chung: Etude pour espace
Edgard Varèse: Dance for Burgess for chamber orchestra (fragment)
Edgard Varèse: La procession de Verges for tape
Edgard Varèse: Déserts for wind, piano, percussion & tape
Edgard Varèse: Poème électronique for tape

David Atherton conductor
Cathie Boyd staging
Sir John Tomlinson bass
EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble
Jonathan Golove cello theremin
Natasha Farny cello theremin
Sound Intermedia

And two concerts on Sunday April 18th:

Queen Elizabeth Hall:

Edgard Varèse: Hyperprism for wind & percussion
Edgard Varèse: Un grand sommeil noir for voice & piano
Edgard Varèse: Octandre
Edgard Varèse: Offrandes for soprano & chamber orchestra
Edgard Varèse: Intégrales for wind & percussion

David Atherton conductor
Cathie Boyd staging
Elizabeth Atherton soprano
Sound Intermedia

Festival Hall:

Edgard Varèse: Nocturnal for soprano, male chorus & small orchestra
Edgard Varèse: Arcana
Edgard Varèse: Tuning Up arr. Chou Wen-Chung
Edgard Varèse: Amériques

National Youth Orchestra

Paul Daniel conductor
Cathie Boyd staging


I booked these in person at the Southbank Centre, but now, looking at the website, I realise that I could have saved 20% because I'd booked all three concerts. Bollocks! Still, there's a tip for anybody else who's thinking about going to all three concerts.

Oddly, the Festival Hall balcony is not being used for the NYO's grand finale, and I got the impression that not many tickets had been sold as of mid-January. I hope there are going to be more people in the audience than there are on stage!   
Title: Re: Edgard Varese: Ameriques & Arcana recordings
Post by: snyprrr on July 10, 2010, 08:17:16 AM
ok people, this thread really needs the cumulative recording review system. There aren't thaaat many recordings, and, I'm sure at least a couple of you have every version of some works.

Starting with Ameriques and Arcana, could  get some clarification on which version I should probably like the best? I used to have Chailly, which I had to sell for money, so I don't remember, and I currently have the Mode, Varese/Xenakis disc, which, really has turned me off the piece. Ultimately, it may be the siren again (it's aaaalways the siren ::)), but, either way, I am definitely interested in getting a copy for life. So, what do we have?

1) Boulez/Sony

2) Boulez/DG

3) Nagano/Erato

4) Chailly/Decca

5) Mehta

6) Abravanel

7) Craft

8) Izquierdo(sic)/Mode

9) G-L/Naxos

10)

This is just off the top of my head. So, can we have all out war here? :P ;D

...or, is there already a consensus?

If you want, throw Equatorial in there too.


I just got the Percussions de Strasbourg doing Ionisation on this awesome Philips box. The siren here is so subtle and beautiful that it truly brings out the Terminator-like feel of the piece.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese: Ameriques & Arcana recordings
Post by: snyprrr on July 12, 2010, 03:25:24 PM
ok people, this thread really needs the cumulative recording review system. There aren't thaaat many recordings, and, I'm sure at least a couple of you have every version of some works.

Starting with Ameriques and Arcana, could  get some clarification on which version I should probably like the best? I used to have Chailly, which I had to sell for money, so I don't remember, and I currently have the Mode, Varese/Xenakis disc, which, really has turned me off the piece. Ultimately, it may be the siren again (it's aaaalways the siren ::)), but, either way, I am definitely interested in getting a copy for life. So, what do we have?

1) Boulez/Sony

2) Boulez/DG

3) Nagano/Erato

4) Chailly/Decca

5) Mehta

6) Abravanel

7) Craft

8) Izquierdo(sic)/Mode

9) G-L/Naxos

10)

This is just off the top of my head. So, can we have all out war here? :P ;D

...or, is there already a consensus?

If you want, throw Equatorial in there too.


I just got the Percussions de Strasbourg doing Ionisation on this awesome Philips box. The siren here is so subtle and beautiful that it truly brings out the Terminator-like feel of the piece.

help
Title: Re: Edgard Varese: Ameriques & Arcana recordings
Post by: some guy on July 12, 2010, 03:42:30 PM
Starting with Ameriques and Arcana, could  get some clarification on which version I should probably like the best? I used to have Chailly, which I had to sell for money, so I don't remember, and I currently have the Mode, Varese/Xenakis disc, which, really has turned me off the piece.
Which of the two is "the piece"? I'm guessing Ameriques because of the siren reference, but your list has Mehta on it, and I don't think he ever did Ameriques, did he?

So here's my two cents worth: Chailly for Ameriques, if only because that's the (slightly) longer original version,* and Mehta for Arcana. I have several recordings of Arcana. None of them come up to Mehta's level. Lyndon-Gee is OK, but if the Mehta is too hard to find, Slatkin's is a good second best (even if it's coupled with Holst's The Planets, of all things!).

Abravanel for Equatorial, for sure.

*I see that Lyndon-Gee's Ameriques is also the original version. (Buy the two Lyndon-Gee, why not--they're on Naxos, so it ain't no thing--and see how you like that. Then maybe think about supplementing with some of the classic performances.)
 



Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: petrarch on July 12, 2010, 03:45:53 PM
I have the Boulez/Sony, the Xenakis/Varèse/Mode and the Chailly/Decca. The Boulez/Sony will probably always be my reference, just because it was the first one I got almost 20 years ago. That CD made Varèse become one of my favorite composers. Note that the Chailly/Decca is the original version (with bigger orchestra) and not the better known 1927 revision.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Sid on July 13, 2010, 08:55:31 PM
I once read a scholar who suggested that Varese was not necessarily great for the music he wrote, but more for the way he challenged listener's (& of course other composers) idea of what music should be like.

He is one of my favourite composers, but I hardly listen to him, because of the high octane intensity. I have both of the Naxos recordings. I hope that they release his Poeme Electronique at some stage.

My favourite work by him, of those that I know, is his Deserts. I really like how he develops a dialogue between the acoustic instruments and electronic recordings. It is at times a very inhospitable and bleak landscape, but also a psychological portrait of a person's thoughts (that's scary?). I also read that Stockhausen was the guy who operated the tape at the Paris premiere of the work. This was a seminal work of the C20th, no doubt.

I would like to see something by him done live (people in the UK, Europe and USA are fortunate in this regard). Not much of his music gets played here down under, not only because it often requires large forces, but also because I think that relatively few people here are aware of him. In any case, it's good to hear his music occassionally on recordings, and I even heard his Nocturnal played on radio recently, though the announcer (with his comments) obviously thought it was wierd - at the end he said "I did warn you!"
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: listener on July 13, 2010, 10:00:34 PM
VARESE AT LINCOLN CENTER
This month Lincoln Center Festival pays tribute to Edgard Varèse, one of the 20th century’s boldest musical groundbreakers. Over the course of two evenings, two eminent New York ensembles are presenting the entire catalog of his works.
**
On July 19 in Alice Tully Hall the International Contemporary Ensemble, conducted by Steven Schick, will perform a program that includes Poème Électronique, consisting of recorded materials, transformed piano chords and bells, and filtered recordings of choruses and soloists. On July 20, in Avery Fisher Hall, the New York Philharmonic under its Music Director Alan Gilbert will offer Varèse’s orchestral works. An accomplished roster of guest artists will feature soprano Anu Komsi, bass baritone Alan Held, So Percussion, Musica Sacra, and the Oratorio Society Chorus under Kent Tritle
complete story at http://www.playbillarts.com/features/article/8427.html
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: petrarch on July 14, 2010, 12:40:12 PM
My favourite work by him, of those that I know, is his Deserts. I really like how he develops a dialogue between the acoustic instruments and electronic recordings. It is at times a very inhospitable and bleak landscape, but also a psychological portrait of a person's thoughts (that's scary?). I also read that Stockhausen was the guy who operated the tape at the Paris premiere of the work.

It was Pierre Henry, not Stockhausen. And Xenakis was at the hotel recording the broadcast. The premiere didn't go smoothly; like Stravinsky's Le Sacre 40 years before at the exact same venue, Déserts caused a scandal. There are interesting accounts by Odile Vivier and others about that night.

Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: mjwal on July 15, 2010, 05:13:14 AM
I don't know the Mehta, but my favourite performance of Arcana is the Martinon recording. And I do like the recording of Offrandes with Jan De Gaetani and the CCE cond. Weisberg on Nonesuch.
Anent the Zappa article - I love his Weasels Ripped My Flesh album, which definitely shows signs of infestation by Varèse, New Orleans jazz & Eric Dolphy, teenage lavatory humour  & jazz-rock, as well as Debussy and Tchaikovsky in "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gasmask". I realise I have herewith imperilled my GMG High Street cred  8)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese: Ameriques & Arcana recordings
Post by: snyprrr on July 15, 2010, 07:49:34 AM
Which of

Abravanel for Equatorial, for sure.



hmmm, what about that weisberg? w/de gaetani....nonesuch??
Title: Re: Edgard Varese: Hyperprism....
Post by: snyprrr on July 15, 2010, 07:57:49 AM
Hyperprism seems to be the rarest on record. Any thoughts?

Also, Intergrales and octandre,...any particularly "fruity' brass performances?

Hey, keep the favs coming, this is fun!!



I just listened to the Ameriques?Mode,....ok, it's not so bad, but i can see where a "back in the day" performance might capture the armageddon better.

Imagine if Mercury Living Presence had recorded these big pieces!!! :o :P :P
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: greg on July 15, 2010, 05:40:06 PM
It was Pierre Henry, not Stockhausen. And Xenakis was at the hotel recording the broadcast. The premiere didn't go smoothly; like Stravinsky's Le Sacre 40 years before at the exact same venue, Déserts caused a scandal. There are interesting accounts by Odile Vivier and others about that night.
Someone actually uploaded the premiere of it here (I still have it).

And yes, I agree with Boulez/Sony being great. How could possibly pull off a better performance of Ameriques?  8)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: karlhenning on July 16, 2010, 03:40:02 AM
Someone actually uploaded the premiere of it here (I still have it).

And yes, I agree with Boulez/Sony being great. How could possibly pull off a better performance of Ameriques?  8)

Not directly an answer to your question, but you want to hear the eight-hands piano reduction of Amériques, truly you do!
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: jowcol on July 16, 2010, 08:19:37 AM
I don't know the Mehta, but my favourite performance of Arcana is the Martinon recording. And I do like the recording of Offrandes with Jan De Gaetani and the CCE cond. Weisberg on Nonesuch.
Anent the Zappa article - I love his Weasels Ripped My Flesh album, which definitely shows signs of infestation by Varèse, New Orleans jazz & Eric Dolphy, teenage lavatory humour  & jazz-rock, as well as Debussy and Tchaikovsky in "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gasmask". I realise I have herewith imperilled my GMG High Street cred  8)

Let's not forget "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama" and Don Sugarcane Harris's electric Violin on "Directly from My Heart to You".  It's a great album, and I'm sure you've pumped up your cred with some of us here.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: karlhenning on July 16, 2010, 08:21:01 AM
Hear, hear.  How's about some "Orange County Lumber Truck"?
Title: Re: Edgard Varese: Nagano/Erato??
Post by: snyprrr on July 16, 2010, 09:08:55 AM
just back from a youtube varese marathon.

i think i'm liking Ecuatorial and Noctural and Deserts the best, along with Hyperprism and Octandre and Integrales.

Funny, i liked Arcana the least.

Varese certainly has the mayan/aztec-ancient rites sound down, though, for the balls-to-the-wall stuff, i think i prefer Ruggles. who else cultivated the "ancient" sounds (besides, say, Chavez)?



btw- no one's mentioned Nagano/Erato yet, and i feel my curiosity getting the better of me. someone please help!!! yea or nay?
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Kaiser on July 17, 2010, 08:46:55 AM
I am just about ready to make the commitment to going down to Lincoln Center next week to catch the 2nd day's performance of the Varese material. Trying to get a friend to go with me, but if it comes down to it - I may just go it alone. I don't want to miss this opportunity. Anyone else planning on going?
-------- Chris
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: mjwal on July 19, 2010, 04:51:34 AM
I think that is the same article I referred to, James, already linked to by Kaiser.
I only saw Zappa live once - he was conducting/fronting the Ensemble Modern in Yellow Shark at the Frankfurt Alte Oper, and although he was already mortally sick he was cavorting about, firing off wisecracks etc like the grand old trouper he was.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Kaiser on July 23, 2010, 07:04:03 AM
So I managed to catch the second night of Varese at Lincoln Center last Tuesday. Stunning to hear this great music played live! So - was I the only one here to go? This was only the second time I've ever been to Avery Fisher Hall and I was thrilled. Hoping to go more often - if only they'd put more Varese on the schedule! Hearing Arcana and Ameriques in the same night was (almost) too much!
--------- Chris
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: karlhenning on July 23, 2010, 07:07:36 AM
Wonderful, Chris!
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Brewski on July 23, 2010, 07:12:38 AM
Great, wasn't it!  I still grin thinking about the 14 percussionists in Ionisation

Alan Gilbert did a fantastic job, and it was so much fun to see the Avery Fisher stage extended so far (looked to be close to an extra 20 feet), to accommodate all those musicians.  I'd heard Amériques live twice before--with Dohnányi/Cleveland in 2000 at Carnegie, and with Maazel/NY Phil in 2003--but don't recall ever hearing Arcana, anywhere.  In any case, Gilbert's reading held its own with both of those other two.

My hope is, now that the group has played these scores, that Gilbert will put some of them individually on programs in the next few years.  I mean, one Varèse score per season wouldn't be too much to ask!

--Bruce
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Kaiser on July 23, 2010, 11:12:08 AM
Great, wasn't it!  I still grin thinking about the 14 percussionists in Ionisation

Alan Gilbert did a fantastic job, and it was so much fun to see the Avery Fisher stage extended so far (looked to be close to an extra 20 feet), to accommodate all those musicians.  I'd heard Amériques live twice before--with Dohnányi/Cleveland in 2000 at Carnegie, and with Maazel/NY Phil in 2003--but don't recall ever hearing Arcana, anywhere.  In any case, Gilbert's reading held its own with both of those other two.

My hope is, now that the group has played these scores, that Gilbert will put some of them individually on programs in the next few years.  I mean, one Varèse score per season wouldn't be too much to ask!

--Bruce

Hey Bruce! Glad I wasn't the only one from the forum who saw this concert! It sure was great. I would hope from the reception the performance got (extremely enthusiastic audience!) that more Varese gets put on the regular program. I wasn't familiar with Ameriques before the conert, but I was pretty familiar with Arcana so that was really thrilling for me. I only wish I'd had the foresight to try to get down the night before to hear Deserts performed (alas - sold out by the time I got serious about going). I certainly would jump at the chance to hear this music live again. Even with the pieces I was familiar with - it was a LOT to take in all at once. Yeah - the percussion section was awesome! That siren sure got a workout in Ameriques! What a night!
---------- Chris
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: jurajjak on July 23, 2010, 12:03:07 PM
Hello,

I attended the second night of the Varese concert--a wonderful experience. The brass and especially percussion seemed extremely well-rehearsed. Though I noticed one or two people walk out during the last 10 minutes of Ameriques, I was happy to see an audience response that was, in general, hugely positive.


andrew
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Brewski on July 25, 2010, 07:43:33 AM
Chris, yeah, the ICE concert on Monday was kind of remarkable, in that tickets were so scarce.  Capacity of Alice Tully Hall is listed as 1,096--great and perhaps a little surprising, that all those people wanted to hear so much Varèse.  (I saw several in the audience, including the gent next to me, with scores to Déserts.)

Andrew, I noticed the walk-outs, too, and was wondering if that piece was the "last straw," volume-wise.   ;D  But never mind: those of us who stayed were rewarded with a thrilling experience.  I think Alan Gilbert is showing that there *is* an audience for unusual repertoire.  (I was going to say "modern music," but let's face it, most of these big orchestral works are from the 1920s, almost 90 years old.)

--Bruce
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: just Jeff on August 03, 2010, 04:20:41 PM
Jean Martinon and the Chicago SO can be heard in a terrific performance of Arcana on RCA ( coupled with Bartok)

Another vote for this wonderful recording!  Amazing!!!
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: snyprrr on August 04, 2010, 06:21:05 PM
Missed the Chailly set on Ebay,... for $5!! :-[
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: just Jeff on August 15, 2010, 08:50:24 PM
Missed the Chailly set on Ebay,... for $5!! :-[

The Chailly and the Mehta/LA Decca recordings get the top ratings for CD issues.  $5 for that double set, yes!
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on October 08, 2010, 08:15:00 PM
BUMP
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on October 08, 2010, 08:18:57 PM
I've been listening to Chailly's 2-CD set of Varese's music and it's really interesting music. I haven't heard a wasted note yet! Very accessible music surprisingly.
 
I heard Boulez's earlier recordings are quite good, but don't surpass Chailly's in sheer orchestral brilliance and audio quality. Anyone have any opinion on the Boulez recordings?
 
The Naxos recordings look interesting as well. Right now, I'm just going to try absorb the Chailly set and see where it leads me.
 
P.S. I hope Sid is reading this. :)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Sid on October 10, 2010, 04:32:57 PM
I've been listening to Chailly's 2-CD set of Varese's music and it's really interesting music. I haven't heard a wasted note yet! Very accessible music surprisingly...

 
P.S. I hope Sid is reading this. :)

Yes, I am reading this - always like to read about Varese. I think Varese's music takes me where other composers might not. But it is very intense, and I have to be in the right head-space to access it (a bit like some other C20th masters, Messiaen comes to mind). Varese's orchestration/instrumentation is interesting and unique, because he didn't write much for the strings, it's all focussed on the winds and percussion.

I have the Naxos recordings, I haven't heard any other recordings. I think that there are a number of good recordings out there, from Chailly to Nagano & Boulez. I even saw the (live) world premiere recording of Deserts in the store a while back, conducted by Helmut Scherchen. That would have maybe been interesting, though generally I don't like to double up on works that I already have. I think people have mentioned above how that performance didn't go down well with the audience (it was a 2-cd set, with the other works at that concert, like Purcell, Mozart and Tchaikovsky - maybe it wasn't the right context to present Varese's work?).

The main thing with Varese, which is a pity, is that he had such a small output. Most of his early works were destroyed when a fire broke out in a warehouse in Berlin where they were in storage. Varese also sent a symphonic work of his to Bartok for evaluation and opinion, but it apparently got lost in the mail. I'm surprised he didn't keep a copy(?). & in his final years, Varese was extemely self-critical, producing little and actually destroying some works (his assistant Chou Wen Chung apparently saved a few from the trash bin). Oh well, at least we have what we have and though his output is small, he was one of the most influential composers of the C20th...
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Dax on October 11, 2010, 01:08:57 AM
I even saw the (live) world premiere recording of Deserts in the store a while back, conducted by Helmut Scherchen. That would have maybe been interesting, though generally I don't like to double up on works that I already have.

I posted it on page 2 of this thread. Here it is again.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/fhqnsr
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on October 11, 2010, 07:49:11 AM
My favorite Varese works are Ameriques, Un grand sommeil noir, Tuning Up, and Arcana. I find these works to be the most musically interesting or at least to me anyway.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: karlhenning on October 11, 2010, 08:13:10 AM
MI, I suspect you may enjoy this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Wt9bP8oOL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Varèse
Amériques (version for two pianos, eight hands)
Helena Bugallo, Amy Williams, Amy Briggs, Benjamin Engeli
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0027CWF7A/goodmusicguide-20)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on October 11, 2010, 08:16:53 AM
MI, I suspect you may enjoy this:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Wt9bP8oOL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Varèse
Amériques (version for two pianos, eight hands)
Helena Bugallo, Amy Williams, Amy Briggs, Benjamin Engeli
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0027CWF7A/goodmusicguide-20)

I'm not much for chamber works, Karl, so I'm not sure how intuned with the music I would be.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: snyprrr on October 25, 2010, 01:08:06 PM
Well, after everyone's suggestions,... I went with,... Nagano!!

I've been comparing to the YouTube's Chaillys, and Boulez, and Nagano comes out like a great alternative. The imaging may not be as crystal clear as the Decca recording, but where you crank it up,  :owoah, there is dynamic range to this disc! From what I heard, everyone finds something different to emphasize, but everyone seems to keep the energy up.

One example:

At the beginning of Ameriques, Nagano takes the percussion entry louder than the rest, to good effect, but everyone else has a more,...mmm,...studiofied sounding recording. Nagano's recording has the brass up front and the percussion behind, which sometimes leaves the percussion not as crisply ti8nkling as the others. But, like I said, when you crank it up, this problem goes away. As a recording, this is up there in earthquake territory. The Decca recording seems musch more perfected, but the Apex/Erato recording has a thrilling edge.

Phyllis Bryn-Julson sounds like a living statue in her bits (meant as a compliment ;)), and Nicholas Isherwood's bass in Ecuatorial is very impressive (as is the bass response in this piece! :o).

Hey, considering how expensive that Decca set can be, this is a great alternative, probably even cheaper than the two Naxos discs. Nagano brings out the violence very nicely,... you really feel the tropical humidity and the ancient rites. And everyone contributes a variety of rude sounds exclusive to this recording.

I don't want to take away from anyone's sacred cow, but please don't discount this great cycle! And, currently, it is quite competitive. I have a feeling I'm going to been listening to this a LOT! ;D
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on October 25, 2010, 06:26:55 PM
Well, after everyone's suggestions,... I went with,... Nagano!!

I've been comparing to the YouTube's Chaillys, and Boulez, and Nagano comes out like a great alternative. The imaging may not be as crystal clear as the Decca recording, but where you crank it up,  :owoah, there is dynamic range to this disc! From what I heard, everyone finds something different to emphasize, but everyone seems to keep the energy up.

One example:

At the beginning of Ameriques, Nagano takes the percussion entry louder than the rest, to good effect, but everyone else has a more,...mmm,...studiofied sounding recording. Nagano's recording has the brass up front and the percussion behind, which sometimes leaves the percussion not as crisply ti8nkling as the others. But, like I said, when you crank it up, this problem goes away. As a recording, this is up there in earthquake territory. The Decca recording seems musch more perfected, but the Apex/Erato recording has a thrilling edge.

Phyllis Bryn-Julson sounds like a living statue in her bits (meant as a compliment ;) ), and Nicholas Isherwood's bass in Ecuatorial is very impressive (as is the bass response in this piece! :o ).

Hey, considering how expensive that Decca set can be, this is a great alternative, probably even cheaper than the two Naxos discs. Nagano brings out the violence very nicely,... you really feel the tropical humidity and the ancient rites. And everyone contributes a variety of rude sounds exclusive to this recording.

I don't want to take away from anyone's sacred cow, but please don't discount this great cycle! And, currently, it is quite competitive. I have a feeling I'm going to been listening to this a LOT! ;D

Boulez (both on Sony and DG) has turned in some amazing Varese performances. Chailly's set is also very good and contains the original score to Ameriques. I haven't heard Nagano's recording(s), but I suspect he doesn't reach the precision that Boulez and Chailly are able to muster from these highly inventive scores. I wouldn't want to be without Boulez or Chailly.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Sid on October 25, 2010, 06:30:53 PM
...I haven't heard Nagano's recording(s), but I suspect he doesn't reach the precision that Boulez and Chailly are able to muster from these highly inventive scores...

How can you judge Nagano's conducting if you haven't heard it? I've heard him doing some modern stuff on radio, and to my mind, he's pretty good...
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on October 25, 2010, 06:42:27 PM
How can you judge Nagano's conducting if you haven't heard it? I've heard him doing some modern stuff on radio, and to my mind, he's pretty good...

Because I own many of Nagano's recordings and haven't been too impressed with his conducting. His recording of Messiaen's Turangalila Symphonie, for example, was quite mediocre.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Sid on October 25, 2010, 06:55:56 PM
Well, I think he's hardly a "mediocre" conductor if he has lead some of the finest orchestras of the world. I haven't heard his Messiaen, but have got his recording with baritone Jose Van Dam doing the "Jederman" song cycle of Frank Martin & I think that must be one of my favourite recordings of that type of repertoire. He brings out the latent romanticism and Bergian rumination in the music perfectly. The colours of the orchestra are pretty amazing (I think it was one of the French orchestras?)...
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on October 25, 2010, 07:05:00 PM
Well, I think he's hardly a "mediocre" conductor if he has lead some of the finest orchestras of the world. I haven't heard his Messiaen, but have got his recording with baritone Jose Van Dam doing the "Jederman" song cycle of Frank Martin & I think that must be one of my favourite recordings of that type of repertoire. He brings out the latent romanticism and Bergian rumination in the music perfectly. The colours of the orchestra are pretty amazing (I think it was one of the French orchestras?)...

I didn't say he was a mediocre conductor, I said I didn't like his conducting. I called the overall performance from both Nagano and the orchestra mediocre. In other words, I have heard better recordings of this work.
 
Nagano is quite a knowledgeable musician, but I just haven't been moved by any of his performances yet. Do I need your permission to dislike something? Last time I checked, I was free to formulate my own opinions.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: snyprrr on October 25, 2010, 07:44:13 PM

Boulez (both on Sony and DG) has turned in some amazing Varese performances. Chailly's set is also very good and contains the original score to Ameriques. I haven't heard Nagano's recording(s), but I suspect he doesn't reach the precision that Boulez and Chailly are able to muster from these highly inventive scores. I wouldn't want to be without Boulez or Chailly.

I would have assumed the same. It was the Amazon reviewer who converted me. He said he thought it was Nagano's greatest performance, and went on and on about Nagano vs Nagano vs Boulez,... so,...

The Decca may be "perfect" in the recording dept, and sure, in performance, but this recording has a,... I love to use the word 'feral',... I think there is a unique excitement going on here. The recorded image is more 'live', and less absolute perfection, but, like I said, when you turn up the volume,...ka-bamm!!

This is a Sleeper!
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on October 25, 2010, 08:23:20 PM
I would have assumed the same. It was the Amazon reviewer who converted me. He said he thought it was Nagano's greatest performance, and went on and on about Nagano vs Nagano vs Boulez,... so,...

The Decca may be "perfect" in the recording dept, and sure, in performance, but this recording has a,... I love to use the word 'feral',... I think there is a unique excitement going on here. The recorded image is more 'live', and less absolute perfection, but, like I said, when you turn up the volume,...ka-bamm!!

This is a Sleeper!

Well then perhaps I shall acquire this recording at some point. Since it's on Apex/Warner Classics, it should be quite cheap.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Sid on October 26, 2010, 06:18:09 PM
Yes, it's great that we have a variety of Varese recordings - and he's even being performed live a bit more often in the Northern hemisphere nowadays. Earlier this year, there was a series of concerts of his complete works in the Netherlands and London. Large halls (former factory buildings) were used, and I think that these kinds of spaces really suit the music - the audience being subjected to a maelstrom of sounds mirroring the post-industrial era in buildings that actually housed some of the old industries. The Naxos recordings were also done in Poland, during a Varese festival there. Unfortunately, I can't imagine his stuff done to this scale down here in Australia - too much wind players and percussionists needed - but this year Ionisation was performed in Perth, Western Australia (of all places!).

I think that deep down, Varese was a bit of a romantic at heart. He didn't compose according to a method - like serialism, however loosely it was used by Schoenberg and his acolytes. Varese's music has this impulsive aspect - he'd just do things in a certain way because he liked it. The high point of his music was Deserts, where he combined an orchestra with two-tracked tape. There was really a sense of breaking new ground with that work. I have been reading a book on C20th music by Arnold Whittall (some of his stuff is on Google Books for free) and he said that after Deserts and the Poeme Electronique, there was a sense of pessimism that crept in to Varese's music. His last work, Nocturnal (for soprano, male choir and ensemble) is really dark. There's not much light at the end of the tunnel, especially as it deals with Anais Nin's text which speaks of incest. It's a bit bizarre why Varese would choose this dark and inward world at the end of a career that seemed to produce works that at times reflect physical structures or epic (but scarred all the same?) landscapes. I love Nocturnal just like his other works, but one has to admit that it is pretty unusual for his output (a new direction?)...
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on October 27, 2010, 02:08:12 AM
Yes, it's great that we have a variety of Varese recordings - and he's even being performed live a bit more often in the Northern hemisphere nowadays. Earlier this year, there was a series of concerts of his complete works in the Netherlands and London. Large halls (former factory buildings) were used, and I think that these kinds of spaces really suit the music - the audience being subjected to a maelstrom of sounds mirroring the post-industrial era in buildings that actually housed some of the old industries. The Naxos recordings were also done in Poland, during a Varese festival there. Unfortunately, I can't imagine his stuff done to this scale down here in Australia - too much wind players and percussionists needed - but this year Ionisation was performed in Perth, Western Australia (of all places!).

I think that deep down, Varese was a bit of a romantic at heart. He didn't compose according to a method - like serialism, however loosely it was used by Schoenberg and his acolytes. Varese's music has this impulsive aspect - he'd just do things in a certain way because he liked it. The high point of his music was Deserts, where he combined an orchestra with two-tracked tape. There was really a sense of breaking new ground with that work. I have been reading a book on C20th music by Arnold Whittall (some of his stuff is on Google Books for free) and he said that after Deserts and the Poeme Electronique, there was a sense of pessimism that crept in to Varese's music. His last work, Nocturnal (for soprano, male choir and ensemble) is really dark. There's not much light at the end of the tunnel, especially as it deals with Anais Nin's text which speaks of incest. It's a bit bizarre why Varese would choose this dark and inward world at the end of a career that seemed to produce works that at times reflect physical structures or epic (but scarred all the same?) landscapes. I love Nocturnal just like his other works, but one has to admit that it is pretty unusual for his output (a new direction?)...

I think Deserts isn't that great of a work. It doesn't have the forward momentum of say Arcana or Ameriques. There is just nothing propelling this work foward. It certainly isn't an exciting piece, which when I listen to his music I listen to it for its raw power, though I do love Tuning Up and that vocal work Un Grand Sommeil Noir. But this is merely my opinion.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: snyprrr on October 27, 2010, 07:08:58 AM
Deserts makes me want to listen to Kraanerg.

I've been listening to this Nagano set for days now.

Has anyone noticed how Varese starts almost every piece with the same kind of 'signaling' figure in the woodwinds (as with Density 21,5)? I'm hearing a lot more of the snake charmer music in there too.

I hear a lot of pre-Xenakis in those signaling bits. I think also, this Nagano set has the Orchestre National de France,... isn't this the group that played most of the Xenakis on those old Erato LPs (or was that ROTF?)?

ahhh,...Varese is soooo refreshing, no?
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Sid on October 27, 2010, 04:12:48 PM
Deserts is certainly exciting for me, yes it's not as propulsive as some of his other works, but like most of them, the structure is made up of blocks which are interlocked but also separate. I also notice the similarity with Xenakis, Varese's music is often based upon these granite like structures. Of course, it's also impossible to separate New York from some of his music, Ionisation could perhaps be an image in sound of that city (sirens, church (?) bells, drum beats reminding one of street parades a la Ives). Some people think Varese was too radical, but if you think about it (& read some info on what he was doing) you may see his work as an extension of what Debussy was doing in Jeux or Janacek in (say) his only Violin Sonata. By the time of the 1910's, these composers interest in traditional thematic development (the sonata form?) had vanished (not that it was ever that strong), and was replaced by structures that presented the music in seemingly unrelated blocks that were very organic and malleable. So I think this is part of the issue that you have with Deserts, MI - that it is not propeled forward in any way toward some kind of resolution, much of the music has a static immutable quality that goes agains the grain of say Ameriques, which a recent music writer called a 'poor man's Rite of Spring.' But I find it interesting how Varese was still using quite primitive technology (2 track tape) whereas in the 1970's guys like Xenakis and Stockhausen were able to utilise 8 track tape. In effect, what Varese was doing with the orchestra in his works - eg. the complex layering - was exactly what they would do in their later electronic works. If Varese had the technology of the 1970's and '80's at his disposal, his music would have probably been totally electronic (of course, he was already doing this in the Poeme Electronique, the only work of his that I have never heard). Food for thought...
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on October 27, 2010, 06:28:48 PM
Deserts is certainly exciting for me, yes it's not as propulsive as some of his other works, but like most of them, the structure is made up of blocks which are interlocked but also separate. I also notice the similarity with Xenakis, Varese's music is often based upon these granite like structures. Of course, it's also impossible to separate New York from some of his music, Ionisation could perhaps be an image in sound of that city (sirens, church (?) bells, drum beats reminding one of street parades a la Ives). Some people think Varese was too radical, but if you think about it (& read some info on what he was doing) you may see his work as an extension of what Debussy was doing in Jeux or Janacek in (say) his only Violin Sonata. By the time of the 1910's, these composers interest in traditional thematic development (the sonata form?) had vanished (not that it was ever that strong), and was replaced by structures that presented the music in seemingly unrelated blocks that were very organic and malleable. So I think this is part of the issue that you have with Deserts, MI - that it is not propeled forward in any way toward some kind of resolution, much of the music has a static immutable quality that goes agains the grain of say Ameriques, which a recent music writer called a 'poor man's Rite of Spring.' But I find it interesting how Varese was still using quite primitive technology (2 track tape) whereas in the 1970's guys like Xenakis and Stockhausen were able to utilise 8 track tape. In effect, what Varese was doing with the orchestra in his works - eg. the complex layering - was exactly what they would do in their later electronic works. If Varese had the technology of the 1970's and '80's at his disposal, his music would have probably been totally electronic (of course, he was already doing this in the Poeme Electronique, the only work of his that I have never heard). Food for thought...

Yes,  food for thought. I will say that if people still look at Varese as a radical then they're not using their ears at all. So much development has been made in classical music thanks to his cunning way with composition. But the most interesting thing about Varese, for me, is the fact that his music is very accessible. I think works like Ameriques and Arcana should be in everybody's classical collections.
 
For me, in terms of Modern music, it all comes back to the Second Viennese School. If these three brave, innovative composers had not existed, then classical music would be very different today. They helped "get the ball rolling" so to speak for many composers.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: snyprrr on October 27, 2010, 09:25:21 PM
Just listening to Deserts.

So spare,... such, almost childlike building blocks,...the empty spaces,...the primitive tape,...

sooo '50s!!! I like! 8)

I like the aimlessness of this particular piece alone. Very wasteland. It should segue into Metastasis, no? Dawn of the New Era.



I love how in the '50s, briefly, everything went to the Stone Age whilst everyone tried to cope with all the new, godlike power.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Sid on October 28, 2010, 04:02:52 PM
@ snyprrr:

You probably encapsulated why my favourite Varese work is Deserts (along with Ionisation). I love the fact that you can't answer all of the questions Varese poses in these pieces, not only about music, but about many other things. I love losing myself in these pieces, not ony whilst listening to them, but (perhaps more importantly) when thinking about them. That's what I expect from all music I listen to (& not necessarily only classical) - to stimulate, engage and open up new horizons.

@ mirror image:

Yes, Schoenberg et al were important during the 1900's & 1910's & beyond, but so were guys like Scriabin, Roslavets and Ives who were doing similar things (but separate from what was going on in Vienna). Ditto Debussy, Busoni, Janacek, Prokofiev, Stravinsky and many others I'm not that familiar with. There were so many things & directions in music going on during that time all across the globe. Varese was kind of the generation between the old and new, but he was pivotal in influencing others who were emerging after World War Two like Xenakis and Carter...
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: just Jeff on November 06, 2010, 05:16:14 PM
Not sure anyone has yet noted a Varese set conducted by Konstantin Simonovich, the Paris Contemporary Music Ensemble, an EMI recording on Angel might be out of print of Deserts, Ionisation, Integrales, Density 21.5.

I have the vinyl and it sounds rather open and lucious.  I've not seen a CD issue, but have not looked very hard either.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Lisztianwagner on May 31, 2013, 02:35:18 AM
About Varèse's music, I only know his Amériques, which is really a quite brilliant composition; what a great way depicting strong, vivid impressions of an american metropolis. The hauntingly beautiful climaxes, the powerful dymanics, the fierce dissonances and the massive, thrilling use of percussion create such an involving atmosphere; definitely amazing! Amériques reminds me of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring for most of the time, apart from some sections, especially those one requiring harps, which sound similar to the floating style of Debussy. Really a colourful contrast!
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: 7/4 on June 02, 2013, 06:52:57 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Wt9bP8oOL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Varèse
Amériques (version for two pianos, eight hands)
Helena Bugallo, Amy Williams, Amy Briggs, Benjamin Engeli
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0027CWF7A/goodmusicguide-20)

I'm listening to this again...haven't heard it since it came out. I hear a lot of Stravinsky in Ameriques.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: lescamil on June 02, 2013, 09:51:25 AM
Varèse was at the premiere of the Rite of Spring, and that opening alto flute solo should be a giveaway that he was influenced by it, for sure!
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: petrarch on March 11, 2014, 05:46:57 PM
Fascinating read!

http://www.khaldea.com/rudhyar/varesefire.html (http://www.khaldea.com/rudhyar/varesefire.html)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mirror Image on March 11, 2014, 06:04:00 PM
Varèse was at the premiere of the Rite of Spring, and that opening alto flute solo should be a giveaway that he was influenced by it, for sure!

Saints-Saens, Ravel, and Debussy were at the premiere as well. Imagine the spectacle it must have been to witness one of the most revolutionary moments in music history. I'm sure Ravel, Debussy, and Varese were grinning from ear to ear. They knew a 20th Century master was born. Not to undermine the success of Petrouchka or The Firebird of course.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: ibanezmonster on March 11, 2014, 06:12:03 PM
About Varèse's music, I only know his Amériques, which is really a quite brilliant composition; what a great way depicting strong, vivid impressions of an american metropolis. The hauntingly beautiful climaxes, the powerful dymanics, the fierce dissonances and the massive, thrilling use of percussion create such an involving atmosphere; definitely amazing! Amériques reminds me of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring for most of the time, apart from some sections, especially those one requiring harps, which sound similar to the floating style of Debussy. Really a colourful contrast!
Ameriques is a piece I always like to turn up, especially near the end.

(http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2012/213/3/d/metal_horns_by_rthomps70-d59fmsx.jpg)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: EigenUser on July 16, 2014, 04:51:08 AM
In order to avoid derailing snyprrr's resurrected Xenakis (late works) thread, I will post this here.
Funny because I just downloaded the Boulez in question. I haven't listened to it yet. It will be my first encounter with Varese.
I suspect that you will love "Ameriques" and other Varese (not just because I do, but based off of what you seem to like). Be prepared to get the opening alto flute melody stuck in your head for weeks. Edge-of-your-seat music all the way through from the deceptively gentle opening to the earth-shattering finale. Some of it does indeed remind me of Rite (as someone said earlier), but I feel that it is far more "modern" and even more savage. It is hard for me to believe that it was composed only roughly ten years later than the Rite.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: 7/4 on September 09, 2014, 02:12:41 PM
(http://i300.photobucket.com/albums/nn38/microtonaldave/varese-zappa_1_zps1bbbc5c5.jpg)
Frank Zappa Referees Tribute to Edgard Varèse (http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/archives-frank-zappa-hosts-edgard-varese-concert/)
Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Q2 Music is thrilled to present an archival recording of the famous Frank Zappa-hosted concert of the music of Edgard Varèse, recorded April 17, 1981 at the now-defunct Palladium in NYC.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: torut on September 13, 2014, 09:39:36 PM
Frank Zappa Referees Tribute to Edgard Varèse (http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/archives-frank-zappa-hosts-edgard-varese-concert/)
Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Q2 Music is thrilled to present an archival recording of the famous Frank Zappa-hosted concert of the music of Edgard Varèse, recorded April 17, 1981 at the now-defunct Palladium in NYC.


It was fun. Thank you for the link. That kind of exchanges with audience are rarely heard in classical music concerts. "Ah, shut the f*** up." :laugh:
I love Ionisation.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: 7/4 on September 14, 2014, 02:11:56 AM
I was thinking that it even sounds like his conducting too, the phrasing. I need to listen to this again, I don't listen to much Zappa these days.

There's an entire album in the can of Zappa conducting Varese, Gail Zappa has been hanging on to it for years.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: EigenUser on February 24, 2016, 06:59:52 AM
I was unhappy with my answer the other day when North Star asked what the differences were in the revised (vs. original) edition of Varese's 'Murica were. So instead of playing my normal Polish National Radio Symphony (Naxos) recording, I decided to play Boulez/Chicago's revised version and take note.



I figured I'd write down and post time markings on the Boulez recording in case anyone is interested in knowing where the differences are. I pretty much have the Naxos recording memorized so it wasn't too difficult to tell where things sounded different. I am not talking about orchestration differences -- I mean actual cuts/additions.

4:30, 5:00, 6:10, 11:20 (I wrote a question mark here -- not sure why), 13:20, 16:35, 17:10, and 18:10 (through the entrance into the recapitulation.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 08, 2016, 06:45:39 AM
I especially like Octandre.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Sergeant Rock on September 08, 2016, 11:52:22 AM
So.....what would be your Varese: Greatest Hits?  :laugh:

Amériques, Arcana, Ionisation.

I love Octandre and Hyperprism too but decided to keep my Greatest Hits to three (considering he only composed 17 works).


Sarge
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Heck148 on November 02, 2016, 05:19:27 AM
Mehta's (premiere?) recording of Arcana with the L.A. Phil is still the one to beat, I think.

I'll take Martinon/Chicago from 3/66....amazing

Quote
I don't really disagree with James' opinion about the Boulez, but I must say that I felt a lot better when I had gotten several different recordings of Varèse.

I enjoy the Boulez disc, very good...
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Scion7 on December 25, 2016, 01:48:02 AM
Oh how much I would give to hear his lost works (which includes a symphony and two operas!)  :(
I believe the correct term for the symphonies is not lost, rather he destroyed them, for whatever justification he had in his mind.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: lescamil on December 25, 2016, 02:09:32 AM
Has this been linked before? This is something I am so glad has been preserved...

http://www.wqxr.org/?utm_source=Newsletter%3A+Q2+Music&utm_campaign=0bffb59089-Q2_Music_eNewsletter_0519145_19_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fa9d482354-0bffb59089-73054985&mc_cid=0bffb59089&mc_eid=4a5db20a3f#!/story/archives-frank-zappa-hosts-edgard-varese-concert/
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Crudblud on December 25, 2016, 05:00:44 AM
Has this been linked before? This is something I am so glad has been preserved...

http://www.wqxr.org/?utm_source=Newsletter%3A+Q2+Music&utm_campaign=0bffb59089-Q2_Music_eNewsletter_0519145_19_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fa9d482354-0bffb59089-73054985&mc_cid=0bffb59089&mc_eid=4a5db20a3f#!/story/archives-frank-zappa-hosts-edgard-varese-concert/

Very cool, thanks for posting.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on December 25, 2016, 09:59:30 PM
This page includes a list of all the Varese works that we'll never be able to hear  :'(

The Following:

The One-All-Alone, stage work (1927)
L'astronome, stage work (1928-9)
Metal, soprano and orchesta (1932)
The Great Noon (1932)
Espace (The One All Alone; Le Miracle; L'astonome), chorus and orchestra (1929-c1947)
Trinum, orchestra and electronic sounds (1950-54)
Dans la nuit, chorus, brass, organ, 2 ondes martenot and percussion (1955-61)
Nocturnal II (Nuit), soprano and small ensemble (1961-65)
All of these would be very interesting to hear. The juvenilia I tend not to be interested in no matter who the composer is, though. Do you think other scholars might complete these projects down the track?
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: ahinton on March 08, 2017, 01:29:18 AM
This page includes a list of all the Varese works that we'll never be able to hear  :'(

The Following:

The One-All-Alone, stage work (1927)
L'astronome, stage work (1928-9)
Metal, soprano and orchesta (1932)
The Great Noon (1932)
Espace (The One All Alone; Le Miracle; L'astonome), chorus and orchestra (1929-c1947)
Trinum, orchestra and electronic sounds (1950-54)
Dans la nuit, chorus, brass, organ, 2 ondes martenot and percussion (1955-61)
Nocturnal II (Nuit), soprano and small ensemble (1961-65)

Martin Pas, opera,  boys' voices and mandolin (c1895)
Chansons avec orchestra (c1905)
Colloque au bord d'une fontaine (c1905)
Dans le parc (c1905)
Le fils des étoiles, opera (c1905)
Poèmes des brumes (c1905)
3 Pieces, orchestra (Souvenir?) (c1905)
Chanson des jeunes hommes, orchestra (c1905)
Prélude à la fin d'un jour, after L. Deubel, orchestra (c1905)
2 rhythmic prose pieces (Deubel) (c1905)
Rhapsodie romane, orchestra (1905-6; pf version, fp. Paris, 1906)
Apothéose de l'océan, sym. poem, large orchestra (1906)
La délire de Clytemnestre, tradegie symphonique (1907)
Bourgogne, large orchestra (1907-08) - score destroyed by Varese, c1962
Gargantua, sym. poem, large orchestra (1909) - incomplete
Mehr Licht, orchestra (1911; preworked as Les cycles du nord, orchestra, 1912)
Les cycles du nord, orchestra (1912) [see Mehr Licht]
Oedipus und die Sphinx, opera (1908-14)
Danse du robinet froid (1917-19)


http://www.pytheasmusic.org/varese.html
I wonder what happened to the final work on the second list, because this appears to date from after the composer's relocation to US so could not have met its demise in the way that most of the others are said to have done.

Of these missing works, at least Bourgogne received a performance, so I have long hoped that its orchestral parts might turn up somewhere; I am not aware that it is known what became of them but it does not seem as though the composer destroyed them along with the score more than half a century after completing the work.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Mahlerian on April 18, 2017, 05:14:00 PM
Edgard Varèse: The Most Epic Interview You’ll Ever Hear about the Ultimate Maverick


http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/edgard-varese-interview-claire-chase-chou-wen-chung/ (http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/edgard-varese-interview-claire-chase-chou-wen-chung/)

Great anecdotes and lots of music, too.  Still, I wonder why after announcing that they would be playing a version of Deserts without the electronic parts, they played one that included them.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: petrarch on July 10, 2017, 04:51:19 PM
Same documentary as in Mode 276 DVD:

http://www.ubu.com/film/varese_documentaire.html

Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: You did it on November 18, 2017, 07:19:10 PM
Ameriques is beyond words.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on November 18, 2017, 08:20:45 PM
Ameriques is beyond words.


Ameriques is a composition for large orchestra.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: You did it on November 18, 2017, 08:34:40 PM
Ameriques is a composition for large orchestra.


 :laugh:
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: You did it on November 19, 2017, 01:22:53 AM
Not a single note wasted or out-of-place, completely perfect IMO  :-*
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on November 19, 2017, 02:12:08 AM
Not a single note wasted or out-of-place, completely perfect IMO  :-*

Which is then why he edited it for a slightly smaller orchestra in 1927..............  ::)
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: You did it on November 19, 2017, 02:20:51 AM
Which is then why he edited it for a slightly smaller orchestra in 1927..............  ::)

Why don't you ask him?  :P

I stand by everything I said, that original version  :-*

Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on November 19, 2017, 02:33:48 AM
Why don't you ask him?  :P

I stand by everything I said, that original version  :-*



Your infatuation is incredible.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: You did it on November 19, 2017, 02:02:18 PM
Your infatuation is incredible.

It's called being a fan, how's it incredible?  :laugh:
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Cato on April 23, 2018, 02:54:52 AM
From 'Traditional' vs. 'Contemporary' Repertoires:Perhaps a False Dichotomy?


It may surprise some, but my discovery of classical music came so many decades ago, that the Schoenberg vs. Stravinsky controversy was still exercising people, and Stockhausen, Penderecki, Boulez, and Ligeti  were 30-something punks!  ;)  I listened to contemporary works on university radio stations in southwestern Ohio which stations e.g. occasionally broadcast the latest Webernesque creations from Professor Al Lee Gretto, who would regale us about his work's unusual permutations of pitch classes, and the intervallic blah-blah-blah my ears are glazed over please stop.

Allow me to add Edgar Varese to that experience: I remember seeing these supersonic album covers offering his works like Ameriques (See below) and was instantly intrigued.  I also recall reading an interview with him (possibly in High Fidelity?) which I found fascinating: the author wrote that Varese was busy with a tape of machine-gun sounds!  It also offered a picture of him in some cluttered hole and looking like a mad scientist!  Varese was no "30-something punk,"  0:)  but was a proverbial "force to be reckoned with."


The Wall Street Journal for April 21.22, 2018 offered this article on Varese and Ameriques by Stuart Isacoff:

Quote
Every artistic era has its towering figures, like Claudio Monteverdi, whose 1607 “L’Orfeo” serves as a landmark in the earliest days of opera, or Igor Stravinsky, the pre-eminent composer of 20th-century music following his riot-inducing “Rite of Spring” in 1913. But many lesser-known talents also made powerful contributions that continue to resonate.

A good example is Edgard Victor Achille Charles Varèse (1883-1965), the innovative French-American composer whose “Amériques,” the first work written in his newly adopted country (he set sail for New York in December 1915), will be performed from April 27-29 at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall by Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The piece employs mammoth orchestral forces: Its instrumentalists—they numbered 142 in the original, but were reduced in a later revision—include not only the standard orchestral complement, but also heckelphone (a low oboe whose invention was initiated by Richard Wagner ); a brass section of eight horns, six trumpets, three tenor trombones, bass trombone, contrabass trombone, tuba and contrabass tuba; two harps; and a huge percussion section utilizing nine players, plus two sets of timpani. There are parts for every conceivable type of percussion, from xylophone and glockenspiel to sleigh bells, rattles, lion’s roar (a drum with strings attached), whip, gong, cymbal, and siren (“deep and powerful,” says the score, “with a brake for instant stopping”).

Early critics assumed that the siren, which became something of a signature device for Varèse, reflected his desire to depict the hustle and bustle of New York, like Gershwin’s use of French car horns in his 1928 “An American in Paris” to create a sonic image of the City of Lights. For Varèse, however, it was simply a way of utilizing microtones—pitches that would lie in the cracks between the piano’s keys. “Amériques” was not place-specific, but rather a reflection of the sense of exploration and discovery he found in the “vastness” of the New World. “I might as well have called ‘Amériques’ ‘The Himalayas,’” he quipped to his student, composer Chou Wen-chung.

He was driven by the idea of newness—unsurprising given his early associations with such artistic leading lights as Guillaume Apollinaire, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia and Jean Cocteau, and cutting-edge musicians like Claude Debussy (to whom he introduced the music of Arnold Schoenberg ), Richard Strauss, and especially Ferruccio Busoni, who wrote the influential “Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music.” (“The role of the creative artist is to make new laws,” stated Busoni, “not to follow those already made.”) When he revised “Amériques” in 1929 for its Paris performance, Varèse incorporated the very latest electronic instrument of the day, the ondes martenot.

That striving for an original language had its consequences, of course. In 1922 Varèse sent a copy of “Amériques” to Leopold Stokowski, then music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, who expressed interest in looking into the music when he was “less busy.” The composer tried to follow up, but soon reported to a friend, “Stokowski, the swine, hasn’t answered my letter. I don’t think I have a chance with him.” It turned out that the conductor had actually tried to schedule the work but was stymied by his own committee. When Stokowski finally performed “Amériques” in 1926, it was met, reported the Philadelphia papers, with “hisses and catcalls.” He tried it again at Carnegie Hall in New York, where, writing in the New York Post, pianist and revered teacher Olga Samaroff declared that the composer “could scarcely have done anything more detrimental to the cause of modern music than to produce a composition like ‘Amériques.’” Little wonder Varèse spent many years in a state of utter depression.

Today his music is more highly regarded, particularly his forays into the world of recorded sound and electronics. His “Poème électronique” for the Philips Pavilion at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, using three channels of taped sound running through 425 loudspeakers, made pioneering use of the spatial element to give three-dimensional shape to his sound masses—a concept he applied again masterfully in his unfinished work for the concert hall, “Étude pour espace,” which was revised by Chou Wen-chung in 2009. Varèse’s total output is small enough to fit into just two concert programs, but each of his works is fascinating.

That includes “Amériques.” Its gentle opening of a solo alto flute stating a recurring theme is reminiscent of the bassoon that begins the “Rite of Spring.” In fact, the ghost of Stravinsky hovers over the entire piece. But soon enough the work is unmistakably Varèse, filled with scurrying figures and raucous outcries. Blocks of sound battle it out through shifting sonorities, punctuated by sharp attacks on drums and cymbals. The siren emerges and fades like a mournful wail. Meters shift constantly, and silences become as weighty as the loudest sounds. Then, after 24 minutes, with a final explosion the musical beast expires.

Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on April 23, 2018, 10:25:27 AM
Varèse was at the premiere of the Rite of Spring, and that opening alto flute solo should be a giveaway that he was influenced by it, for sure!
It is funny the first time i heard the Rite i thought the bassoon solo as written in that register sounds more like a flute than a bassoon...
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Cato on April 23, 2018, 11:36:53 AM
It is funny the first time i heard the Rite i thought the bassoon solo as written in that register sounds more like a flute than a bassoon...

I can understand that!

One of my favorites, speaking of flutes:

https://www.youtube.com/v/cCFk0f8szes
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: steve ridgway on September 02, 2018, 04:12:33 AM
The link to the 1954 World Premiere of Deserts no longer works but I found it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ihrJ2-8xao. A very noisy rendition not helped by the audience but it justifies me in using the iTunes volume adjustment to crank up the tape sections on the Chailly CD to a similar level to the orchestral parts. I was sure Varese hadn't gone to all that effort just for it to sound like faint background, as if sitting in a very loud desert recalling the peace of the human world with nostalgia ::). Actually it was the tape sections that attracted me to this after starting with Poeme Electronique and it took me a few listens before becoming accustomed to the orchestral sounds and taking the plunge of buying the CD set, after which I've gradually come to enjoy most of the other compositions, so it's really been my gateway to orchestral music in general 8).
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: Sydney Nova Scotia on September 09, 2018, 07:21:11 PM
Nice
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: vers la flamme on March 24, 2020, 09:02:37 AM
Anyone listening to Varèse lately?

I have one CD of his music: Kent Nagano conducting the ONF, Vol. 1 of the complete works, on Erato. I got it at a record store in Chicago. It includes Amériques, Offrandes, Hyperprism, Octandre, and Arcana. I return to it every once in a while and, while usually enjoying what I hear, it does not typically end up leaving a big impression for me. I think the problem is that I don't really know what his music is all about, who his influences were, what kind of philosophies (or lack thereof) guided his music. But every so often I will read that a composer I really respect and enjoy—be it Boulez, Feldman, or whoever else—idolized Varèse. Given this I hope to one day understand his music.

Are there any good reading materials (or videos) out there that might help me understand what his music is all about? 
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: steve ridgway on March 24, 2020, 09:21:03 AM
Anyone listening to Varèse lately?

I have one CD of his music: Kent Nagano conducting the ONF, Vol. 1 of the complete works, on Erato. I got it at a record store in Chicago. It includes Amériques, Offrandes, Hyperprism, Octandre, and Arcana. I return to it every once in a while and, while usually enjoying what I hear, it does not typically end up leaving a big impression for me. I think the problem is that I don't really know what his music is all about, who his influences were, what kind of philosophies (or lack thereof) guided his music. But every so often I will read that a composer I really respect and enjoy—be it Boulez, Feldman, or whoever else—idolized Varèse. Given this I hope to one day understand his music.

Are there any good reading materials (or videos) out there that might help me understand what his music is all about?

I enjoy that one and a couple of other complete works. I don’t understand them as such, they’ve just grown on me with repeated listens.
Title: Re: Edgard Varese
Post by: petrarch on March 24, 2020, 09:57:39 AM
Are there any good reading materials (or videos) out there that might help me understand what his music is all about?

There are a couple of french TV documentaries that are quite worthwhile. For reading materials, the following is essential:



There are also two french books I recommend, even if they are somewhat old: Odile Vivier and Fernand Ouelette.