Murail

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COMPOSERS: Tristan Murail
LABELS: Aeon
ALBUM TITLE: Murail
WORKS: Le partage des eaux; Contes cruels (for electric guitar and orchestra); Sillages
PERFORMER: Wiek Hijmans, Seth Josel (electric guitars); BBC Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic/ Pierre-André Valade
CATALOGUE NO: AECD 1222

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Tristan Murail, having emerged from spectralism, writes orchestral music that ravishingly explores, analyses, muses upon and takes inspiration from sound itself. These three works, superbly realised under the nuanced direction of Pierre-André Valade, provide both a fine introduction for those unfamiliar with Murail’s music and a corrective of sorts for those who only know the pieces from the first phase of his output.

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Le partage des eaux (1995-96) is a result of Murail’s close analysis of the sound of a wave breaking and its backwash. The result is a constantly shifting texture, at times smooth, others turbulent, yet always shimmering. The closest it comes to being melodic is with what sounds like a diffuse memory of a Messiaen chorale, yet it is continually mesmerising. The same might be said of the other two works. In Contes cruels (2007), the orchestra transforms the often filigree gestures of two electric guitars tuned a quarter-tone apart, opening up whole new vistas of colour, while the kinetic energy and gravitational flux of the harmonies in Sillages (1985) continually enthralls. Christopher Dingle