Varèse - Octandre
Drawing its name from the word for a flower with eight stamens, Edgard Varèse’s Octandre is composed for an eclectic group of eight players, including three brass instruments, four woodwind instruments, and double bass. In fact, eight players would turn out to be one of the smallest ensembles for which Varèse ever wrote a completed work, but his trademark technique of meticulously arranging layers of sound would not suffer for a lack of forces. Octandre quickly traverses the full spectrum of musical expression in its first movement (Assez lent), growing from the intimate oboe solo that begins the work up into brash, rhythmically complex statements led by the brass, whose power belies the small size of the ensemble. The central movement (Très vif et nerveux) juxtaposes the whistling low tones of the piccolo with the piercing high register of the clarinet, before giving way to music that features striking contrasts between all of the instruments in the ensemble. The final movement (Grave) begins somberly before accelerating into a contrapuntal finale that again conveys surprising power from this unorthodox octet. Octandre was premiered in 1924, and shares its birth year with the Curtis Institute of Music. Octandre and other works from this era were performed throughout the 2014–15 season in celebration of Curtis’ 90th anniversary.
Composers Edgard Varèse
Instruments Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Trumpet, Trombone, Double Bass, and Horn/French horn
Recorded Date 15-05-2015