Varese: Amériques; Offrandes; Hyperprism; Octandre; Arcana

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LABELS: Erato Musifrance
WORKS: Amériques; Offrandes; Hyperprism; Octandre; Arcana
PERFORMER: Phyllis Bryn-Julson (soprano); Orchestre National de France/Kent Nagano
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-92137-2 DDD
Nagano is the ideal Varèse conductor, able to combine a wonderful rhythmic and structural precision with sensual treatment of melodic line and orchestral colour. This disc is the first of a complete survey of Varèse’s work which looks all set to be definitive.


The five works included here begin the chronological pilgrimage in 1920 – virtually everything Varèse composed before his arrival in the USA from Paris in 1918 was destroyed. If Amériques is the celebration of the New World that he completed on his arrival – with due acknowledgement to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring – then by the vocal Offrandes and especially Hyperprism and Octandre he was beginning to carve out the niche in modernism that proved to be so influential in subsequent generations of composers.


In an extraordinary work like Arcana, scored for an orchestra of 120, Varèse’s concept of form, his use of musical objects that revolve and re-order themselves in musical, space, seems utterly new. It is a tribute to Nagano’s control and the playing of the orchestra that the originality and raw power of these works are made so palpable and dramatically potent. Andrew Clements