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La Chute D'Icare Import

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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. La Chute D'Icare
  2. Superscriptio
  3. Intermedio Alla Ciaccona
  4. Etudes Transcendantales: I
  5. Etudes Transcendantales: II
  6. Etudes Transcendantales: III
  7. Etudes Transcendantales: IV
  8. Etudes Transcendantales: V
  9. Etudes Transcendantales: VI
  10. Etudes Transcendantales: VII
  11. Etudes Transcendantales: VIII
  12. Etudes Transcendantales: IX
  13. Mnemosyne

Product Description


Ferneyhough, an English composer, is the father figure of a movement in contemporary classical music called the New Complexity, and his music is a fascinating synthesis of the highest delicacy in instrumental writing with visceral fervor. The works on this disc are all excerpts from an immense cycle entitled Carceri d'Invenzione (Dungeons of Invention). The strongly drawn architectural features of the music, inspired by the series of etchings by Piranesi, are impressive; but it is the fragile, expressive textures that are finally most moving and memorable. --Joshua Cody

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ferneyhough for beginners? 31 Dec. 2001
By John Wearden - Published on Amazon.com
This was my first experience of this composer, whose works I knew to be controversial, even notoriously so. Although I'd come to grips with some classics of serialism over the last few years, I still had some trepidation as I started the disc. What was it like? Interesting (that perhaps almost goes without saying)...thought provoking...but also often beautiful, as well as strange. La Chute d'Icare is actually a short clarinet concerto. The sound is like the sonic realisation of some fantastically imagined aviary, with the clarinet soloist the most glittering of all the birds. Messiaen never sounded much like birdsong to me, but this did. The soloist, also the dedicatee of the work, brilliantly plays a part that sounds well-nigh impossible for anyone else. Next on the disc are two solo works: one for piccolo (a feast of fluttertonguing, trills, runs, rapid changes of pitch and intensity.... another virtuouso display), then a second one for violin, played by Irvine Arditti. This "intermezzo" is a kind of deconstruction of violin sounds. Ferneyhough describes it as an ugly piece, but it didn't sound it to me, savage perhaps, but not really ugly. Next, the 9 movements of the "Etudes Trancendantales". This is another mysterious, even misleading, title, for the piece is actually a song cycle, with a fragmented text, sometimes broken up into individual syllables and noises, with varying instrumental accompaniments in the different movements. Imagine a sort of "Marteau sans Maitre" with 20 more years of development. The last piece (Mnemosyne, for bass flute and pre-recorded tape, which seems to consist mostly of flute sounds, on this disc played by the same player)is the Ferneyhough that any open-minded listener would surely enjoy hearing....at least once! Again, there is a range of virtuoso sounds from the live flute, with a slow, almost hypnotic background from the tape. Ferneyhough says that he wants the effect of music played underwater, like Debussy's "Engulfed Cathedral", and he surely achieves this. You've heard of "Water Music", now listen to "Underwater Music". The playing, so far as one can tell, is fantastically brilliant throughout the whole disc. Maybe there are better starting points for Ferneyhough's music, but this disc seemed a good one to me.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great showcase of complexity and ferocious virtuosity 11 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
It's always heartening when a composer writes solo unaccompanied works. In a way it is a patrilinear legacy to foster succeeding generation of interpreters. Ferneyhough's music is an elitist affair, for musicians you need to devote a substantial part of your performing life to it. For us listeners there is no compromise here, why should there be? Ferneyhough's creativity has developed slowly over his career always searching for the next link in his vast labyrinth of musical procedures and processes.It has yielded a vigorous body of work with a devoted following. The "Superscriptio" is a piccolo solo, long a neglected instrument inhabiting the tippy-top of the sonoric field. Ferneyhough brings a fine sense of the natural purity of its sound traversing all its strident registers in a hightened display of rhythmic complexity. When we come violinist Irving Arditti we have a premiere interpreter of Ferneyhough and here the "Intermedio. . . " reveals an ugly virtuosity in all registers with fast clipped double stops, an anguished-like gestures. Arditti however has developed a distanced objectivity in anything he plays, as if his playing is a mere passive conduit for these coldly abstract musical structures . And finally the "Etudes Transcentales" we have full forces of the remarkable Nieuw Ensemble. Ferneyhough's innovations to my mind remain purely technical for he feels he needs to shape and share a dialogue with the past to find a frame for his work and expressive content His structural-global resolutions, the way a piece unfolds in time, are indeed commonplace. Frequently we find Ferneyhough resorting to traditional handling of his materials, simple contrasts,simple traversing of registers,relying on textural change to refocus. And the listening experience is all too often opaque and disorienting,like our emotive sensibilities must somehow cope with blizzards of ill-define materials. Here in the "Etudes Transcendantales"" we have an obvious reference to Listz,who was also a technical innovator who also resorted to a programmatic frame to contain his pianistic innovations. The texts here in the "Etudes" Songs 1,2, and 6 by Ernst Meister and others by Alrun Moll are all beside the point for it hardly matters if the text is heard. Couched in complex linear textures with continous linear movement in microtones, you become swept into the sheer complex power of this linear motion.The synergism which occurs in the marvelous counterpoint does not help to focus your hearing but disperses it. No image really emerges and Ferneyhough's linear technique is so refined so multi-directional that a programmatic element, as these texts, remains at a distance. The vocal atonal linear leapings doesn't help matters. This type of vocal writing (an historical affinity dating to Boulez's "Le Marteau. . . ") leaves the text by itself,words are not conveyed nor their images ,the voice is simply another instrument, not a conveyor but an accomplice in pitch linear purity.Ultimately this language of musical complexity is a relative one and within the force fields of postmodernity it is certainly a legitimate agenda for a creator to foster a musical language that will remain an exclusive creative enclave for some. The fact that this complexity will always appeal to a select few is commonplace and a sign that the ears as a perceptive organ haven't developed in its history. That is an historical perspective,not one which is created.
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars While of an "intellectual" bent, Ferneyhough should be understood as a composer of powerful energies and prismatic structures 28 Dec. 2009
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Brian Ferneyhough is perhaps the most notorious of the "New Complexity" group of composers, writing scores so fiendishly difficult that most performers are scared away. The Nieuw Ensemble, the Amsterdam-based group led by Ed Spanjaard, as well as the violinist Irvine Arditti are some of the rare musicians who have taken on the challenge of Ferneyhough's hyper-virtuosity. This Etcetera disc contains several representative solo and chamber pieces.

This was the first Ferneyhough I had ever heard and I originally wrote a very negative review. The fault was entirely mine. (For one, I was listening to the disc while travelling in India, and noisy marketplaces and motorcycle-filled streets are not the best environment for music that exploits dynamic range to the fullest.) You see, I had misunderstood Ferneyhough as an eggheaded composer of music based on processes that couldn't actually be heard. In fact, Ferneyhough is best seen as an expressionist, and in spite of his microtonal harmonies and irrational rhythms, he's communicating energies and sonic shapes that you can grasp, plus there's a lot of counterpoint going on that the ear can follow. When I decided to give his music another try, I enjoyed it greatly, and when I later read a detailed analysis of a piece by a musicologist, I was stunned to find that it accorded perfectly with my own impressions of the piece. So much for Ferneyhough's mythical abstraction. That said, this music is not for everyone (is any music?), so your mileage may vary.

Most of the pieces here are drawn from Ferneyhough's seven-piece cycle Carceri d'Invenzione (Dungeons of Invention, 1981-86). That cycle opens with "Superscriptio" for piccolo (1981), performed here by Harrie Stareveld. This short piece consists of fast pulsations with shifting rhythmic modules. It's amazing that a human being can master such a tricky part, where at one point it sounds like there are actually two flautists on the stage. Starreveld also performs the closing piece of the cycle, "Mnemnosyne" for bass flute and tape (1986), which has the same charms plus some eerie interaction between the live part and the tape one.

The "Etudes Transcendales" (1982-85) are the centre of the Carceri d'Invenzione cycle. These are settings of poems by Ernst Meister and Alrun Moll for soprano and a changing cast of solo instruments or duos. Needless to say, the actual text is completely abstracted and treated as mere phonetic material as the vocalist makes all kinds of devilish leaps and extended techniques like glottal stops. While never conventionally melodic, the oboe opening is catchy, and I'm fond of a duo between harpsichord and cello where the former plays inchoate clouds of notes and the latter a pizzicato line.

"Intermedio alla ciaccona" for violin (1986) opens with a gentle introduction in the violin's low end that indeed puts one in the mood of the Baroque chaconne form. The word then explodes into a dazzling prism of harmonics, pizzicato, and furious bow work.

Finally, "La Chúte d'Icare" and chamber ensemble (1988) is a delightful work where a clarinetist plays continually an ascending and descending line as the other instruments provide shifting accompaniment. At the end, after a section of shockingly periodic rhythms for this composer, the percussionist patters loudly on the bongos: Icarus has fallen into the sea. Armand Angster is the clarinetist here; he was also the dedicatee of the piece. This recording is enjoyable, but I slightly prefer the sound on the Kairos disc where the ELISION ensemble perform, and clarinettist Carl Rosman there had had a longer time to grapple with the demands of the piece. (The Accord recording with the Ensemble Contrechamps takes a distant third place).
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