Boulez: Pli selon pli; Livre pour cordes

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COMPOSERS: Boulez
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Pli selon pli; Livre pour cordes
PERFORMER: Halina Lukomska (soprano), Maria Bergmann (piano), Paul Stingl (guitar), Hugo d’Alton (mandolin); BBC SO, Strings of the New Philharmonia Orchestra/Pierre Boulez
CATALOGUE NO: SMK 68335 ADD (1970/73)

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Pli selon pli must be regarded as one of Boulez’s most impressive and absorbing compositions. A vocal cycle based upon poems by Stéphane Mallarmé, it is conceived on the grandest scale and utilises an orchestral ensemble of considerable proportions. Yet apart from the turbulent musical discourse that infuses the final movement, Tombeau, the overriding impression remains one of intimacy, especially in the three Improvisations, where the delicate sonorities of tuned percussion, guitar, mandolin and harp punctuate the predominantly lyrical vocal line. Boulez recorded the work for Erato in the early Eighties with the same orchestra, but this earlier version is equally recommendable and enjoys the added benefit of including the pithy, if more abstruse, Livre pour cordes of 1968, an extensive reworking of material originally used in a string quartet composed twenty years before. Erik Levi