Andrea De Vitis Plays Tellur by Tristan Murail

Andrea De Vitis plays Tellur (1977) by Tristan Murail (b.1947). This comes via his YouTube channel. Great to hear this piece which I heard live a few years back. Excellent performance by Andrea De Vitis with very focused pacing, dramatic gestures, and sense of space. For those who don’t know Murail’s work he’s a French composer associated with the spectral technique of composition that uses the acoustic properties of sound to compose and create soundscapes. He’s composed two solo works, one for electric (Vampyr !) and Tellar but also has a number of chamber music works with electric.

Here’s the programme note for the piece from Murail’s site:

Tellur starts off as a kind of wager: how can one produce the long sound continua necessary for my work on procedures, transitions and evolutions, on an instrument that produces brief, plucked sounds ? I found the answer by using the flamenco rasgueado technique and even, more generally, by employing the style and sound of flamenco. The way attacks on the strings, for example, are dealt with is particularly delicate and careful: two textures can be produced on one string simultaneously that evolve in different ways (by disassociating the percussive sound caused by the nails on the strings – a sound that has an exact and controllable frequency – and the sound produced by the resonance of the strings themselves). I also used passages that move progressively from sound to noise (gradual dampening of the strings), the progressive appearance of harmonics, of harmonic resonances of flat chords, unusual fingerings for harmonics, multiple trills using both hands… etc. Tellur is a typical example of a score whose content is derived essentially from sound material provided by the instrument itself – even if the instrument is stretched and used in such a way as to subject it to requirements of style. There is thus, total interaction between basic material and material style. The instrument is tuned in a special way, enabling chords or rasgueado formulae to be used that avoid the guitar’s inevitable E-A-D-G-B-E layout.

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