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Complete Works Vol. 1

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (29 Oct. 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: El
  • ASIN: B000VRRQG8
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 261,684 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
At last, it's now possible to hear the Edgard Varese record that the young Frank Zappa discovered in the 1950s and which had such a profound impact on his musical development. Zappa once described his initial reactions to Varese's music as "These chords are really mean, I like these chords" and "The drums are playing loud in this music and you can hear the drums often...."
The Complete Works of Edgard Varese Volume 1(there was no Volume 2) is thrilling to listen to and still has extraordinary power but it must have sounded like music from another planet to most people when it was originally released in 1950.
This CD is a must for hard-core Zappa fans and anyone else who enjoys adventures in sound.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Brilliant avant- garde music with the cutting edge of the 20th century. Totally timeless and thrilling, almost singable.
The roots of all modern music.
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Very satisfied with my purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa138ebdc) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1514e28) out of 5 stars Historical recordings and paltry timing - for the avid and historically-minded Varese collector only 10 Jun. 2008
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
El is a British label devoted mostly to popular music, but they have reissued a few recordings of classical music that, in a way or another, have had a seminal influence on the pop/rock scene. I've reviewed their reissue of Maro Ajemian's premiere recording of Cage's Sonatas/Interludes for Prepared Piano (John Cage: Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano), there are also two discs of Poulenc playing Satie and Poulenc (ASIN Francis Poulenc Plays Piano Music of Satie & Poulenc and Satie: Socrate; Mess des pauvres; Piano Pieces), and they've just released an Ives disc with recording premieres including William Masselos' first recording of Sonata #1 - an important collector's item for the Ivesian (Radical in a Suit & Tie). This Varèse disc is in fact meant as a tribute to Frank Zappa. The liner notes, quoting Zappa himself, recount at length how young Frank's encounter with precisely this recording, in the early 1950s (in its original LP form, of course, EMS 401), was seminal in his artistic development and musical outlook.

This is obviously a disc for the diehard and historically-minded Varèse collector, not for someone just looking for good, modern recordings of Varèse. The recordings were made in 1950, and though they were remarkable for their age, the sound is mono, a bit congested and hollow, evidently lacking in spatial outspread, but still it comes out clear enough and affords well-defined instrumental presence. Compared to what came after, the interpretations by the New York Wind Ensemble and Juilliard Percussion Orchestra under Frederic Waldman (and under the composer's supervision) lack a measure of snap and fluency, but the unique Varèse sound does come out, with its untamed, piercing savagery and its rare alloy of timbres and harmonies.

What was not on the original LP and that El has added are the three "Interpolations" for tape from Déserts, realized in 1954 in the studios of Pierre Schaeffer's Groupe de Musique Concrete at the French Radio. As revolutionary and grating as they were in their days, when you've heard the four Philips boxes of Pierre Henry, they sound unobtrusive and quite poetic, very much of their age, the epitome of "tape music" and "musique concrète".

Yet, even with the addition of that, the disc runs a paltry 38:03. I understand that it was difficult to add anything else, but still this is frustratingly short for a CD and further limits its interest to the ultras. Another drawback of the reissue is the absence of the original liner notes, all the more regrettable as the disc's liner notes quote Zappa recounting how he had stumbled upon the original and avidly sought-for LP, and giving out all the details, including "liner notes by Sidney Finkelstein! WOW!". Well, that's a WOW that will be reserved to the lucky owners of the original thing - which I am.

Oh, and don't be deceived: the original LP was titled "complete works of Edgard Varèse, volume 1"and the CD reproduces the cover (only omitting the label name which appeared at the bottom right corner). The next volumes never came out, a fate shared by many Varèse collections in those LP days. I suppose lack of success prevented the continuation of these brave enterprises. I see it, not as a condemnation but as a tribute to the composer's unique voice and daringness. Of all the major and influential composers of those days - Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, you name `em - Varèse is the only one with whom, if I didn't know his music and you told me it had just been composed, I would believe it. It remains as wild and daring and outlandishly modern as ever.

In those LP days a Varèse collector could realistically hope to be a completist. The recordings were few and far between. Leaving aside the various Density 21.5 and Ionisation that came in flute or percussion collections (as well as the premiere recordings of Octandre and Ionisation by Nicolas Slonimsky, back in the 78rpm era), this is what there was:

After Waldman came Boulez in 1960 with the Domaine musical on Vega, with Octandre, Intégrales and a premiere recording of Hyperprism, completing Schoenberg's Suite opus 29 (now on the Accord 5 CD-set devoted to Domaine Musical, Le Domaine Musical Volume 1/Var), then the two volumes of Robert Craft (1960 and 1962 - volume 3 never came out), recently reissued (The Varese Album). If I am not mistaken Craft included premiere recordings of Déserts, Poème electronique, Offrandes and Arcana. Jump a few more years and you get:

1966, Arcana, CSO, Martinon (High Performance - Bartok: The Miraculous Mandarin; Hindemith; Varese / Martinon, Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

1968 & 1969 (I think): Ameriques (originally with Milhaud's L'Homme et son désir and Honegger), and premieres of Nocturnal and Ecuatorial (Varese/Honegger) by Abravanel. I have them on CD with the more attractive pairing of Lazarof's Structure sonores (which came on the original LP with Ecuatorial and Nocturnal), a Vanguard reissue apparently originated in the Netherlands and not listed on this site. Incredible, even appalling, to think that Ameriques, this essential piece of 20th century music, equal in importance to Stravinsky's Le Sacre, had to wait more than 40 years for its recording premiere.

1968/1969 Friedrich Cehra and Ensemble "Die Reihe" : Intégrales, Offrandes, Density, Ocandre, Hyperprism, Ionisation, reissued on a valuable Vox 2-CD set with Vox recordings of Penderecki and Ligeti (Ionisation: Music of Varèse, Penderecki, Ligeti)

1969 Offrandes, by Christiane Eda-Pierre and Gilbert Amy conducting the Domaine Musical Adès (Le Domaine Musical de Pierre Boulez)

1970 Konstantin Simonovitch and the Paris Contemporary Music Instrumental Ensemble on EMI, with Deserts, Hyperprism, Intégrales, Density 21.5, labeled, as the Waldman LP, "vol. 1", and, as its predecessor, limited at that. Not reissued.

1971 : Arcana, Intégrales, Ionisation by Mehta (ASIN:B0000042DU - I've used my alloted 10 product links, so I refer you to my Varèse listmania for convenient acces)

1972 : Arthur Weisberg and the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble on Nonesuch, with Offrandes, Intégrales, Octandre and Ecuatorial (ASIN:B000005IVO)

1973 Ameriques, Arcana Constant, Orchestre Philharmonique de l'ORTF, Constant (Erato, not reissued)

1977 : Amériques, Arcana, Ionisation by the NYPO under Boulez and 1984 the chamber works with Ensemble Intercontemporain (ASIN:B000009IME and B000002C05).
HASH(0xa13c53e4) out of 5 stars This is not your father's Oldsmobile 1 Mar. 2015
By Lawrence S. Boucher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I enjoy it tremendously.
7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By Thomas O. Connor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Complete works by Varese with the New York Wind Ensemble is a legendary recording, which has hugely influenced many muscians from Zappa to Pere Ubu. If not familiar with the works of Edgar Varese this is definitely the album to start with.
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