Tristan Murail's DESINTEGRATIONS

“I’ve been told that my music tells a story, but I don’t know the story.” —Tristan Murail

In our final program of the season, Sound Icon tackles another work by French composer Tristan Murail. Last month’s program featured Murail’s Unanswered Questions for solo flute - foreshadowing this month’s tremendous undertaking of his landmark Desintegrations, an ambitiously original twenty-two minute work scored for electronic tape and seventeen instruments.

Murail, a pioneer composer of spectral music, was commissioned to write Desintegrations by IRCAM in 1982. Divided into eleven different sections, the work guides it’s listeners through unique spectrums, rhythmic profiles, and textures - whilst giving the illusion of timelessness. The electronic tape is modeled on real instrument sonorities, proving itself to be one of the most extensive studies one could undertake regarding instrumental spectra. Composer Julian Anderson notes that "the extent to which taped and instrumental sounds fuse and blend throughout the work is unusually consistent, not least given the technology of the time."

"Sounds melt before us, revealing

their interiors before our ears."

Preserving untempered sound to be the primary element for his works, Murail breaks down and exposes elements which the audience may have been previously unaware of. The title references the exact process Murail explores throughout the piece: the disintegration of timbre into its individual parts. Anderson writes:

Sounds melt before us, revealing their interiors before our ears. But it could equally be an allusion (perhaps unconscious) to the constant flux of the music between moments of order and consonance to moments of disorder and noise as the primarily harmonic spectra are disintegrated and deformed into irregular and inharmonic ones.

Through the rearrangement and mixture of synthetic and acoustic sounds, his music can be metaphorically compared to an organic collage of natural occurrences.

(Video: Desintegrations with score)

The result is dramatic. The blending of acoustic and electronic sonorities create a sensitive palette which is most tangible within the space and time of the performance. Murail's Desintegrations is a rare experience, and Sound Icon's performance will offer both new and experienced listeners the opportunity to enter into this world.

(Chris Moore [tbn], Jason Huffman [tpt], Joe Walker [hn], Mike Williams [perc] rehearse Desintegrations; photo: Diana Rodriguez)


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