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Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil


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Product details

  • Audio CD (9 Sep 2013)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Kairos
  • ASIN: B00005NIAW
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 203,592 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D Bessell on 14 Aug 2002
Format: Audio CD
Four Chants for Crossing the Threshold is the last complete work from Gerard Grisey, who along with Tristan Murail, was one of the founders of the 'Spectral' school of composition. As befits what is essentially a meditation on mortality, the mood is sombre and reflective throughout. Instrumental material is based on spectral analysis of the timbre of the voice. In this piece Grisey uses this method to create some fascinating timbral imitations between the instruments and voice. (One of the best examples can be found in the closing moments of track one, where the brass and voice exchange striking timbral correspondences.) These startling aural effects alone make this CD a compelling experience. The performance is of the highest standard throughout as is the recording quality.
Despite being a founder of one of the most significant new directions in contemporary music since Schoenberg, works by Grisey are seldom available for long. Buy this CD while you have the chance. (and any of his other pieces you can find). If Grisey has an achilles heel as a composer, it is that his pieces sometimes contain passages that develop with a glacial slowness. Allow yourself the time to sink into the soundworld of this piece however and you will be amply rewarded.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By N. E. M. Goulder on 29 May 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've written elsewhere of the fascination of Grisey's music; and I have to say I hesitate to comment on this fabulous disc in the light of David Bessell's absolutely perceptive review below.

But I think there is much more here than this music simply representing some fine examples of spectral writing. Somewhat eerily like Jean Barraqué, Grisey died far too young having written far too little. Both men were massively under-appreciated in their lifetime, although this is the common lot of men who see too far ahead. Both men died with their greatest achievements being works obsessed with death.

This disc, Grisey's masterpiece, is far from morbid. I attended its UK première (perhaps its world première, I can't remember) by mistake in 1999 - I was more interested in another piece on the programme that evening. But there was no mistaking the extrordinary centrality of the Quatre Chants, a spellbinding experience. I can't readily think of another work in the repertoire which takes this subject in such a disciplined way (four kinds of death are set in the contexts of four different cultures), and yet delivers such an impassioned impact. You may find the second movement a little slow to develop, but its very stillness is extraordinarily evocative of the stillness of an Egyptian burial-chamber. The release provided by the concluding Berceuse is quite magical.

The CD is impeccably produced, with a handsome booklet giving the full texts and translations, two discussion pieces and a facsimile of a page from the Berceuse. Just listen to Catherine Dubosc sing that page - I can only gasp at her devastating performance.

The disc is undoubtedly one of the classics of our time - you should not hesitate to buy it while it is available.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Feb 2003
Format: Audio CD
The scant material on Grisey and his fellow 'Spectral School' composers available in English tends to concentrate on the formal characteristics of the music. For me, this misses the main point of this recording: its awesome emotional impact.
Make no mistake, this is powerful stuff. The four texts comprise a poem on the death of an angel by a deceased friend of the composer, fragmentary inscriptions from Egyptian Sarcophagi, lines on the quiet in the realm of the dead by an ancient Greek poetess and a depiction of the beauty of the world after the deluge from the epic of Gilgamesh. Grisey himself expired shortly after completing the piece. Gothic is NOT an adequate word for it all.
The music lives up to the texts. The modulated shrieks and wails of Ms Dubosc mesh with the sounds produced by the evocatively named Klangforum Wien to create a desolate, haunting beauty unlike anything I've heard.
Somewhere out there beyond Schonberg, Einsturzende Neubauten, Harrison Birtwhistle and Diamanda Galas. To be listened to by candlelight, over wine, among ruins.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Grisey is not restricted by any system 8 Jun 2004
By Luke birkla - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Gerard Grisey, noted Spectralist French composer, always has something worthwile to say. His music speaks volumes; the relationship between the text and the linearity (or non-linearity) of musical progression is most absorbing, the orchestration is equisite (and like fine detail in a Dali painting), and his musical ideas are always developing, reappearing and becoming "one" with the listener.
It is wonderful,listening to this cd, as each time one discovers a new aspect of this engaging musical tapestry. As with the best music, the variety of expression Grisey evokes is admirable. In lots of music, one can often find the expression lies either side of the barrier between violent and peaceable, or other such contrasts. However, in this cd, Grisey, like Bach, always provides an elusive yet utterly idiosyncratic answer, finding the balance to reconcile such differences, into an immutable force. Yes, the music can be described as an immutable force, as it suspends criticism upon hearing; the listener (hopefully!!) is held in thrall, locked in the music, for it's duration.
It is important though, that with Grisey, his music does not fall prey to labelling. Grisey in an interview (...), speaks of how it was taken over by a few musicologists, reviewers and musicians, as a label.
"Spectralism is not a system. It's not a system like serial music or even tonal music. It's an attitude. It considers sounds.." says Grisey.
Grisey is not restricted by any system.
This is a lovely cd.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Songs for soprano and ensemble that are more intriguing than compelling 15 Mar 2012
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
"Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil" (Four chants to cross the threshold) is a 41-minute set of five songs, featuring Catherine Dubosc's soprano voice and the Klangforum Wien, led by Sylvain Cambreling. It was written in 1997-98, Gerard Grisey's (1946-1998) last composition before his untimely death at the age of 52. The recording is from late October, 2000, at the WDR Funkhaus in Koln.

I first heard this several years ago, and set it aside until now. My reaction is the same as it was then -- "Four chants" is an intriguing work, but I don't find it especially compelling. The vocal line overall is languid, periodically increasing in intensity. Some have mentioned the work's emotional impact, but despite the dire subject matter of death, I don't find it particularly moving. The aspect of the piece that I find the most striking is the instrumentation and timbre. The 16-person ensemble, with some musicians playing multiple instruments, consists of flute/piccolo; two clarinets, including bass clarinet; two saxophones, including alto, tenor and baritone; trumpet; three trombones, including two bass trombones; violin, viola and cello; harp; and three "percussion." What the open-ended "percussion" in the liner notes conceals is the use of steel drums (!) and vibraphone.

The music slides woozily, using microtones and the exotic sounding instruments. Peter Niklas Wilson's liner notes give a description of Grisey's spectralist method: "[b]iomorphous composition means: sound not as a rigid, parametrical, classifiable object, but as a living microorganism whose own momentum becomes the model of musical creation in all dimensions."

The Kairos booklet provides the lyrics for the first four songs in French, German and English, but none for the last ("Berceuse"). The first, "Death of the angel," uses a poem by Christian Guez-Ricord. The second, "Death of civilization," uses fragments from Egyptian sarcophagi of the Middle Empire. The third, "Death of the voice," uses a short passage from the Greek poetess Erinna, who lived around 350 B.C., and died at age 19. And the fourth, "Death of mankind," uses a longer passage from "The Epic of Gilgamesh," an apocalyptic scenario that results in "all mankind [being] returned to clay."

Grisey and his French colleagues Tristan Murail and Hughes Dufourt made quite an impact on the contemporary classical world with their "spectralist" approach to sound and music. However, I'm afraid that Grisey's influence outweighs the impact of his actual compositions. Les Espaces Acoustiques is his masterpiece. "Quatre chants" is not nearly as impressive.

[It is unfortunate that Kairos chose not to include another Grisey work on this half-filled disc. Another shortcoming is the clunky cardboard design that was briefly in vogue in Germany back in 2002 when this disc was released. Fortunately it didn't last long.]
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Grisey's last work is one of his strongest 6 Dec 2009
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil" for soprano and 15 players (1998) was Gerard Grisey's last work, these "four songs for crossing the threshold" having been composed shortly before illness took him at the age of only 52. It's also one of his great achievements, featuring his perennial keen interest in spectral music and the perception of time, but with a great maturity and concern for humanity. Its theme is death, but with a remarkable diversity of texts, spanning the epic of Gilgamesh and Egyptian inscriptions to Erinna and Guez Ricord.

The first movement typifies right off all that is so great about Grisey's music. As it opens, the instrumentalists play a tempo canon, but one with a suppleness beyond anything in neoclassicism. The soprano then enters, intoning a text after Guez Ricord's "Les heures a la nuit". When the soprano approaches the climactic word "mort", the ensemble then imitates the voice, as Grisey has distributed its spectrum among the instruments, and they reproduce it with amazing fidelity. The second movement is a slow one with a sparse scoring, where the soprano reads from a catalogue of Egyptian tomb inscriptions, not only highlighting how death has been a perennial human concern, but revealing with haunting effect that time has erased most of these inscriptions.

The third movement is short, containing only a few lines from Erinna. The fourth song, the longest, sets an extract from Gilgamesh, but here the writing for percussion takes center stage for much of the movement. Between the songs there are brief interludes consisting of silence, noise (rustling of papers), or low-dynamic tones which offer some respite from the intense texts.

This is a moving piece, one that is sure to make the listener confront his own mortality. While the spectralists succeeded in returning the avant-garde to richer harmonies, there is often the stereotype that they were still bespectacled labrats. Grisey's work here shows that bold acoustic explorations can be matched to a devasting emotional impact.

The one complaint I have is with the sound quality of this Kairos disc, as it is sometimes nearly down at the radio recording level. Would that a fine studio recording eventually appear. Still, that's no reason for anyone interested in Grisey's work to not seek this out as soon as possible. For those unfamiliar with Grisey or spectralist composition, his great cycle "Les Espaces Acoustiques" (as heard on an Accord disc) may be a better introduction, but I wouldn't rate these four songs much lower.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A haunting fpiece 2 July 2011
By DeAnna Owens - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This piece is literally and figuratively a haunting. The texts are reinforced by the shadowy orchestration, the subtle spectral techniques, the decay of the sound of the voice and especially in the final piece with its references to music of the past, this makes a haunting elegy to Gerard Grisey as a meditation on his crossing of the threshold.
6 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Not actually available... 3 April 2004
By Paul M Reynaud - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I haven't actually heard this CD at all. I ordered it back in November from Amazon. I waited and waited. Amazon kept sending order updates requesting that I e-mail back proof of my continuing interest in getting this elusive CD. I faithfully e-mailed back. Finally, in early March, I got an e-mail telling me that the CD was "not available from any source." This, in spite of the fact that 13 used copies are listed right on this page and the fact that Amazon itself is still offering the CD. I don't know what Amazon's game is but, if I were interested in actually obtaining this CD, I would look somewhere else. Barnes and Noble offers it for the same price and they say that they can send it in 3 to 5 days.
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