Saturday, November 12, 2011

Boulez, Le Marteau sans Maitre

It's something like the nephew of Pierrot Lunaire. I've only just started listening to it, so what I say about it won't make much sense yet. But it's a setting of poetry (by René Char) and it's a chamber piece. And it has Sprechstimme, which Schoenberg devised for Pierrot Lunaire.

The red caravan on the edge of the nail
And corpse in the basket
And plowhorses in the horseshoe
I dream my head on the point of my knife is Peru.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, even if you can find now and then moments of sprechstimme in Le Marteau, the whole approach to text in this piece is at the opposite of Pierrot's. There Boulez puts forward his notion of absent presence: of the text being something like the foundation for music, without being directly perceived. This is even more patent throughout his Pli selon Pli, based on Mallarmé poems, where each piece, despite being based in a single poem, bears traces of several other moments of Mallarmé's oeuvre. For instance, in the Improvisation I,based on the sonnet "Le vierge le vivace..." the instrumental septet would echoe the "septentrion aussi nord" from Un coup de dés.

    About Le Marteau being Pierrot's nephew, that's true, but in a twisted way. Look at the form of the two pieces. Pierrot displays three cycles of 7 songs each, sequentially. whereas Le Marteau has three cycles of unequal "songs", alternated. Each cycle is dedicated to a different Char poem. And not all numbers of the cycle has the poem in it, so there you have the absent presence- the poem is somewhat used to structure a musical piece without being actually quoted in much of the music.