Les Espaces Électroacoustiques

Les Espaces Électroacoustiques

Col Legno  WWE 2SACD 40002 (2 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid


Edgard Varèse: Poème électronique (1958)
György Ligeti: Glissandi (1957), Artikulation (1958)
Bruno Maderna: Musica su due dimensioni (1958)
Luciano Berio: Différences (1958–59), Visage (1961)
Helmut Lachenmann: Szenario (1965)
Jonathan Harvey: Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco (1980)
Pierre Boulez: Dialogue de l’ombre double (1985)
Brian Ferneyhough: Mnemosyne (1986)

Tomomi Matsuo & Rafał Zolkos (flutes)
Felix Behringer (clarinet)
Grigory Maximenko (viola)
Isabel Gehweiler (violoncello)
Polina Skryabina (harp)
Georg Köhler (conductor)
Florian Bogner, Carlos Hidalgo, Kees Tazelaar, Alvise Vidolin (sound projection)
Germán Toro Pérez (sound projection & artistic direction)

Is a musical performance “historically informed”? Does it do justice to the “original sound”? Is it even possible to truly experience the “original idea” behind a composition when it is performed with “modern instruments”? We are familiar with questions such as these in connection with the interpretation of so-called early music. On this double album they are rigorously applied to so-called new music.

Milestones of electroacoustic music – from Varèse’s Poème électronique (1958) to Ferneyhough’s Mnemosyne (1986) – are investigated from a music-historical perspective and presented in a contemporary 5.1 surround edition. The artistic curiosity, scientific relevance and technical know-how that are essential ingredients for such a project are contributed by the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology (ICST) at the Zurich University of the Arts, under the direction of Germán Toro Pérez.

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Reviews (1)

Review by John Broggio - February 20, 2017

An absolutely first class set & a very welcome return to Col Legno to the hi-res arena.

The introductory note of the booklet sets the agenda for this inspired release with three deliberately provocative questions:
-Is a musical performance "historically informed"?
-Does it do justice to the "original sound"?
-Is it even possible to truly experience the "original idea" behind a composition when it is performed with "modern instruments"?
Germán Toro Pérez, whose direction this music is under, then immediately makes the case for this release to investigate the compositions "from a music-historical perspective and presented in a contemporary 5.1 surround edition".

This set is a tour de force for ones equipment and the engineering team sets out to stimulate our ears in a way that that is in keeping with the (often) highly avant-garde demands of the scores. The opening Varése, Ligeti's "Artikulation", Berio, Lachenmann and Harvey were explicitly written with multi-channel playback in mind: this set must mark the first commercial release to respect this aspect of their score and many would be warranted in assuming these must count as uniquely representative renditions of the scores. The other compositions have been reinterpreted (or perhaps, re-imagined) into the multi-channel world ("Glissandi" by Ligeti was first performed/produced in mono); some purists may feel this is a step too far but others may welcome the extra depth & clarity that this approach has given the music.

Most immediately approachable are perhaps Ligeti's "Glissandi" (which does exactly what its name suggests it would), Harvey's "Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco" with it's immediately arresting peal of bells and Boulez's evocative "Dialogue de l'ombre double for clarinet on stage and pre-recorded clarinet"; the other pieces are more likely to elicit an intellectual response.

The sound is exemplary: the sound of the electronic "concrete" spins around one without ever losing focus and the acoustic instruments are faithfully captured.

For those wanting a musically satisfying work-out of their equipment, this can be recommended without reservation.

Copyright © 2017 John Broggio and


Sonics (Multichannel):

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Comments (2)

Comment by Adrian Quanjer - March 3, 2017 (1 of 2)

Thanks John, for this review. When I was much younger this stuff was the hype of the day. Experimental, they’d call it. Away from stuffy music making. It also raised the question where does ‘music’ stop to become ‘noise’. In literature there were in those days examples of the same esoteric development. I remember buying a book with words, nothing but words. One had to speak them out loudly to discover rhythm and things like alliteration without meaningful word sequences. Excellent ‘fast to sleep’ bed time reading?

Comment by John Broggio - March 4, 2017 (2 of 2)

That's certainly one way of putting it and perhaps accurate for some of the less involving music (and I use that word with care!), but this is not reflective of the Boulez and Ligeti.