we come to the music of Tristan Murail for beauty and mystery,as French post-modernity seems to nourish the aesthetic object full-tilt,it was never residing in exile as exhibited in other cultures,here for example,USA, the aesthetic has been homogenized,digitalized;the French still bind their cultural objects around some poetic-narrative-image, some temporality of darknessand gesture with cognitive baggage, where the weight of intellectual and cultural history, mostly within the paradigm of Franco-phile dimensions, comes to dominate their work,Proust, Mallarme, Valery, Rimbaud,Poe are all vibrant icons resounding, revolving within aesthetic space;simply flip through art that happens in Paris,it is all strongly ferverently attached to these past temporalities;
Murail worked in "spectra", spectral analysis,overtones,a one time IRCAM pioneer, now residing in NYC,this is a kind of deep penumbral appreciation for fine particles, fragments of timbre, timbre can come to be analyzed with the aid of computer systems, trying to locate 'granular' arborecences "rhizomatic" like associations with harmonic overtone phenomenon, Murail however tries to find an aesthetic equivalent within his music for this theory and has fascinating works on this. What has been nebulous in post-modern trajectories has benn the area of interface with electronic/acoustic means, Murail finds beauty there as well without resorting to the genres of free graphic improvisation as others; his resolutions are often elegant, refined nourished blends with acoustic points as in the "Winter Fragments"the primary work here, there are structural freedoms you also come to locate in his music,the music seems spontaneous at times,not forced into an aesthetic tunnel,nor overburdened with darkness;but he tends to that; there is always morphological shapes to whatever he does, but he also doesn't desire to force this imagery of passing time, into too confined spaces, sometimes this happens, as in the "Winter Fragments" where we find successions of flute and cello linear lines, quite neo-romantic to be close to arbitrary gestures, we come to hear lines that really have no sense of linear being,nothing refers to itself backwards, parametrically, only forward;yet much of the time in this music there is no reason to continue, accept the arresting beauty Murail seems committed to, this timbral interface with electronics is where the acoustic points are augmented with volume, ensemble envelopes being shaped together,un-blended at times; coming off in a sharp decrescendo, the reiteration of this is what drives the piece forward,this incessant gesture; as in the best piece herein, "Ethers", a kind of again morphology represented in space. You may find much of this music quite cold,distant, third person, not engaging,but I think there is a price paid for when the theoretical constructs supporting a body of music that never entirely recedes, the music always seems to be about theoretical discovery of musical/electronic representation, the way Murail's music lives and is nourished with this paradox I think is what gives it its mystery and power, nothing is really over-written, or over-determined,theory does in fact stop at some point;, there is a finely honed balanced relationship always with an acoustic principle at the base morphology of the music.
There is a flute solo as well here,the flute timbre a frequent player in French culture; "unanswered question" poses a question of destiny,finely honed lines going no wheres really;tres vif, does the piece need continue as it does?, and solo asks?, perhaps a second hearing would releive me of my doubts.The compact shape is exciting,and attests to itself,self-contained;,again Murail's music works best within the hidden timbres of ensembles,he knows how to shape forces as Dufourt, and Dalbavie, Bonnet,Harvey,and Manoury other interesting composers; Murial's compositional power comes from shape to foment harmonies forward, evocative solo lines seem dissapate quickly, like the erosion of submerged wood just hitting the surface, as Venice;solos for Murail escape a more controlled linear gaze; The Ensemble playing is exquisite, finely balanced is commonplace now for this music.