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Pierre Boulez - Dialogue de l'ombre double (1982-85) for clarinet and electronics [2/2]

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Uploaded on Jul 6, 2010

Pierre Boulez (*1925)
Dialogue de l'ombre double for clarinet and electronics (1982-85)

Alain Damiens, clarinet

French composer Pierre Boulez wrote Dialogue de l'ombre double to celebrate Luciano Berio's sixtieth birthday in 1985. The title, which translates to Dialogue of the Double Shadow, was inspired by an excerpt from the 1924 play Le Soulier de satin by Paul Claudel. Written for live clarinet and its pre-recorded counterpart, it is an atonal tour de force of technical virtuosity and timing. The work is divided into thirteen sections beginning with "Sigle initial" and ending with "Sigle final" with alternating Strophes (live clarinet) and Transitions (pre-recorded clarinet). The "shadow" effect and interplay between the two entities is spellbinding, as the tape serves not only as a reflection of the soloist but also as a means of transformation and magnification. As in other compositions by Boulez, spatial relationships dictated by the placement of performers and audience play an integral part. The soloist is stationed in the center of the hall, surrounded by the audience. They, in turn, are placed between the clarinetist and a six-point speaker system resulting in a fascinating challenge to the listener's acoustical perspective. Because the direction of the sound of the same instrument emanates from various speakers, it is like looking at a piece of sculpture from different sides. From chaos to tranquility, one is struck by the emotional contrasts that transcend the work's disciplined, intellectual bent. As in his larger work, Repons (1981), Boulez successfully marries electronic technology with red-blooded, live music.

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