• str
  • 11 min
    • 13th June 2024, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA, United States of America
    • 15th June 2024, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA, United States of America
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Programme Note

Livre pour Quatuor is at the origin of Livre pour cordes (Book for Strings), from which it comes and which is not yet finished itself.
In 1968, aware of the performing difficulties of the ‘string quartet’ version, Pierre Boulez
decided to orchestrate his score and, at the same time, ‘completely rethink this music’ (see
the composer’s statement in the notes on Livre pour quatuor). This ‘re-composition’ initially resulted in a version for (large) string orchestra of movements I a (Variation) and b (Mouvement), the four voices of the quartet becoming a polyphony in 12 and even 16 parts - and replacing its transparency and primal vehemence with a plenitude of sound, a colour that can bring to mind the Bartók of the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.
The two movements I a and b from the Livre pour cordes were first performed in 1968: in London, on 1st December, for I a, a week later in Brighton for I b with the same musicians for both performances: the New Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by the composer. A new version of part I a was given under the direction of the composer in Los Angeles on 12 May 1989.
It was long imagined that the (unfinished) Livre pour quatuor would completely make way for the Livre pour cordes; it would now seem that the two scores, once completed, will co- exist.


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