CATALOGUE

 

 

The entire Ivan Wyschnegradsky collection is deposited at the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basle (Switzerland).

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information about the catalogue and scores:
contact@ivan-wyschnegradsky.fr

 

 

NB The works for several pianos are divided up as follows:
→ in the category ‘Chamber music’ : works for 2 pianos, for 2 pianos and another instrument, for 3 pianos.
→ in the category ‘Instrumental ensemble’ : works for 4 and for 6 pianos.

 

 

cd casque2
Click on the icon to go to the CD or audio excerpt.

 


[35 works]
Filter by category: All | Chamber music | Instrumental ensemble | Orchestra | Solo instruments | Voice |


Opus 5b Quatre fragments (Four Fragments, Petrograd, 7 November 1918)

1) – Sauvage, quadrangulaire 2) – Parfaitement libre 3) – Fantasque 4) – Avec une nécessité de fer

Version for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 2′30

Unpublished

First performance: 24 June 1988 in Vienna, by Georg Friedrich Haas and Karl-Heinz Schuh.

 




Opus 6 Chant douloureux et Étude (Painful Song and Etude, 1918)

Violin written in semi-, thirds, quarter- and sixths of tones, and piano in semitones.


details

Playing time: 7’25 (4’10 + 3’15)

Unpublished

First performance: 5 October 1979 at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, by Jacques Guestem, violin, and Jean-Claude Pennetier, piano.

 




Opus 7 Méditation sur 2 thèmes de la Journée de l’Existence (Meditation on 2 themes from The Day of Existence, 1918-19, rev. 1976, 1918)

Cello written in semi-, thirds, quarter- and sixths of tones, and piano in semitones.


details

Playing time: 6′

Publisher: Editions Jobert (2013).

First performance: 15 February 1976 at the Conservatoire Serge Rachmaninov. Paris, by Jacques Wiederker, cello, and Martine Joste, piano.

 

The Day of Existence was written in 1916/17 and was Wyschnegradsky’s first large-scale work. The text describes the path to cosmic consciousness and the composition itself is the realization of the corresponding concept of the sound continuum. Although the work is still bound by the conventions of the traditional half-step, it yearns urgently toward smaller intervals.Aware of this after he had used quartertones in his opus 5, Wyschnegradsky wrote the opus 7 Meditation on two themes, carefully illuminating the possibilities of micro-tones inherent in these bars. The cello, unfettered by the limitations of the half-and whole-step refines the third, quarter, and sixth tones into a post-Wagnerian ultrachromaticism. Gottfried Eberle (LP disc Block, English Translation: Alice Dampmann)

 




Opus 10 Sept variations sur la note do (Seven Variations on C, 1918-20 for the first five, the following two subsequently)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

The seventh variation was originally Humoresque for piano in quarter-tones.

Also see Une Pièce (Ein Stück) without opus number.

 

Playing time: 11′35

Unpublished

First performance: 10 November 1945 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Pierre Boulez and Serge Nigg, First performance of the first five variations.

First performance of the seven variations: 10 February 1977 at McGill University, Montreal (Canada), Bruce Mather and Pierrette Lepage.

 

Opus 10 Sept variations sur la note do




Opus 11 Chant nocturne (Night Song, sketched in 1927, rev. 1971)

For violin written in semi-, quarter-, sixths and eights of tone and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 10′

Unpublished

First performance: 10 February 1977 at McGill University, Montreal, by Adolfo Bornstein, violin, Bruce Mather and Pierrette Le Page, pianos.

 

The genesis of this work, over which hovered the idea of the ‘delicate rocking of fifths’, goes back to 1919. In 1927, a little piece was written for violin and piano in quarter-tones. The composer deemed it insignificant and never had it played. Fortunately, in 1971-72, whilst revising his production, Ivan Wyschnegradsky felt he could fundamentally rework and expand it. He would keep the beginning (with the rocking round the fifth of B-F sharp), compose a prolongation and the three violin cadenze, develop the rhythmic and spatial ultrachromaticism, and, in addition, make use of sixths of tones for the violin part. After a half-century of purgatory, Wyschnegradsky finally consented, releasing into space his song of B. (Solange Ancona – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 12 Dithyrambe (Dithyramb, 1923-24)

Two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

The work was updated by Bruce Mather in 1990.


details

Playing time: 10′

Unpublished

First performances: 9 June 1926 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Henri Cliquet-Pleyel and Dominique Jeanes (lost version). First performance of the version revised by Bruce Mather: 28 February 1991, Centre Pompidou, Paris, by Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste, pianos.

 

The first performance of the initial version of Dithyrambe took place on 9 June 1926 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel by pianists Dominique Jeanes and Henri Cliquet-Pleyel in the course of a concert of Russian music that also included works by Arthur Lourié, Nikolai Nabokov, Vladimir Donkelsy, Alexander Tcherepnin, Serge Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky. One of the performers was a certain Claudio Arrau…

However, the score that Wyschnegradsky left us underwent many successive revisions in keeping with the composer’s habit. All the irrational rhythms were surely added thirty years later at the time Wyschnegradkry was elaborating his theory on ultrachromaticism.

He left us two scores, one with piano 1 in traditional notation and piano II in notation with symbols of quarter-tones, the other with piano II in normal notation and piano 1 with quarter-tone signs. On each of the scores, he wrote numerous modifications in pencil: added notes, deleted notes, rhythmic values changed, entire bars and passages deleted. But those modifications are different on the two scores…

In order to make a performance of the work possible, I had to take the huge responsibility of making choices, transferring those choices on the score (on a photocopy, naturally) and then entrusting the two scores to a copyist to constitute a single score with the two pianos in traditional notation. (Bruce Mather, 13 July 1990 – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 13 Quatuor à cordes n°1 (String Quartet No. 1, 1923-24, rev. 1953-54)


details

Playing time: 14′30

Unpublished

First performance: 5 August 1979 at the Festival Estival, Paris, by the Margand Quartet.

 

The work is based on a specific harmonic idea which atone gives it its unity. This idea is the disposition of four tones in the most compact way, that is at intervals of a quarter-tone. The work begins with such a chord (c, c a quarter-tone higher, c#, c three quarter-tones higher) and ends with exactly the same chord (the same four tones untransposed). During the work it constantly reappears in different transpositions. Viewed from this angle, the whole work can perhaps be considered as a pulsation of this basic harmony, sometimes expanding, sometimes contracting, always creating in its course various harmonic, melodic and rhythmic forms as if an agglutinant force were constantly trying to press the four voices against each other as compactly as possible. This agglutinant force is always counterbalanced by an opposing force which tries to separate the sounds from one another. (Without this second force there would be no composition, merely the initial chord in a state of immobility.) In short, the work is a result of the equilibrium between these two forces. Among the expanded harmonic forms special notice should be taken of the inversion of the initial chord which is composed of superimposed quarter-tone seventh (23 quarter-tones), the complementary chord to a quarter-tone second (1 quartertone). The transition from this extended form to the most contracted chord gives birth in the second part of the composition to a formula composed of 4 chords which appears for the first time in bar 115 and is repeated several times later on. It also serves as a conclusion to the work. The first chord of this formula is the inversion of the basic harmony (expanded form), the last is the basic chord itself (contracted form); the second and third chords are intermediate forms arranged from superimposed fifths and fourths. This formula, without being a cadence in the correct sense of the term, nevertheless possesses certain cadential properties (…)
The movement of the two upper voices is a symmetrical inversion of that of the two lower voices. The movement of the first violin is an inversion of that of the cello (3 successive steps each of 11 quarter-tones descending in the violin, ascending in the cello), that of the second violin an inversion of the viola (3 successive descending steps of 1, 9, 1 quarter-tones respectively in the second violin, the same three steps ascending in the viola) (…)
One question occurs: is this quartet a tonal or atonal work? It cannot be called tonal since no chords which could be termed dominant or sub-dominant appear to point towards its centre, nor is any other tonal function manifested. On the other hand it can no longer be termed atonal since it commences and ends with the same untransposed chord, concluding with a cadence-like formula. Although both the lowest and highest voices have a pre-eminent position in each chord, this does not confirm the supremacy of the tones c or c three quarter-tones higher (d ) over the tones c one quarter-tone higher and c# (d). A perfect equality reigns between the 4 agglutinated tones and their preeminence is created by their relationship with the other 20 tones. However it would be inaccurate to conclude from this that a quadruple tonality exists and to see 4 different tonics in these four tones. lt would be nearer the truth to evolve the notion of a dense tonality (tonalité épaisse). The « tonic » of the work is not the four tones as a whole, nor one of them taken separately, but the whole tonal region between c and c three quarter-tones higher, the density (épaisseur) of which consists of three quarter-tones. The pre-eminent region is a continuum composed of an infinite number of tones, and only the necessity of a sonic realization requires the reduction of this continuum to a disposition of 4 quarter-tones. This could just as well have been seven eighth-tones, ten twelfth-tones or any other disposition. In this case the whole work would have been quite different. In other words, the work itself and its structure are strictly determined by the choice of sonic environment (quarter-tones). On the other hand it is no less determined by the tact that its « tonic » is not one musical sound but the whole continual sonic region of a musical space of a « density » of 3 quarter-tones comprising an infinite number of tones.
Through the extension of the idea of dense tonality by gradually increasing the range of the continuous interval through all degrees of density up to the dimension of total space, we arrive progressively at the idea which I have called pantonality. The ,,tonic » is no longer an isolated musical tone, neither is it a continuous region of musical space, it is the whole space audible in a state of sonic continuity. It follows logically that the idea of pantonality is that of atonality, since where the tonality is everywhere, it is nowhere in particular; the two terms are positive (pantonality) and negative (atonality) expressions of the same thing. The idea of tonality becomes superfluous and with it that of pantonality, which after all is an absurd term since it is self-contradictory. instead of pantonality one should speak of pansonority, a more concrete term demonstrating that all space is sonority, and that there is not a single place or point in space where sonority would not be present. This state of pansonority or of omnipresence in the totality of musical space, this overabundance in which « all space resounds », is the perfect equilibrium, the ultimate and absolute « consonance » towards which basically all music strives, in so far as tonal tensions of a purely sonic nature will not oppose the play of this natural force
. Ivan Wyschnegradsky (Cd Quatuor Arditti / Block, translation: Patricia Göhl)

 




Opus 16b Prélude et Danse (Prelude and Dance, 1937, rev. 1953)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 4’05 (2’ + 2’05)

Unpublished

First performance: 28 March 1938 at the ‘Le Russe à l’étranger’ Musical Society, 26 Avenue de Tokio, Paris, by Henri Cliquet-Pleyel and Iska Aribo.

 




Opus 18 Quatuor à cordes n°2 (String Quartet No. 2, 1930-31)


details

Playing time: 12’20

Unpublished

First performance: 2 February 1932 in Paris, at the 12th Concerts Montparnasse, by the Vandelle Quartet.

 

The second quartet, the Deuxième Quatuor à cordes en système de quart de ton was written in the years 1930/31 and was numbered op.18 by the composer. In contrast to the other two works to which the composer gave the title « String Quartet », it is divided into movements (I Allegro scherzando, Il Andante, III Allegro risoluto) which, with two quick movements flanking a slow middle movement, can still be indirectly classified as following the tradition of classical quartet composition. A closer look shows however that the difference between this and Wyshnegradsky’s one-movement compositions is not so great: in the latter there are also slow passages which might be compared to the middle movement of the second quartet. Thus viewed, the structural ideas which are used in the compositions for string quartet are very similar, in spite of their different musical style – and quite remote from the classîcal tradition. The fact that the thematic material of the first movement is taken up again in the finale, not merely as a quotation but as a main element, shows that the dynamism of the form in this work closely resembles that of the one-movement compositions. Later revisions of the third quartet suggest that Wyshnegradsky’s choice of one or more movements was purely arbitrary and that, from the composer’s point of view, the substance of the composition was little affected by such alteration, albeit a fundamental one. Klaus Ebbeke (excerpt from CD Arditti String Quartet, translation: Patricia Göhl)

 




Opus 19 Deux Études de concert (Two Concert Etudes, 1931, rev. 1962-63)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 6’30 (2’30 + 4′)

Unpublished

First performance: 10 February 1977 in Montreal, by Pierrette Le Page and Bruce Mather.

 




Opus 20b Étude en forme de scherzo (Etude in the Form of a Scherzo, 1932)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 4’15

Unpublished

First performance: 25 January 1937 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Ina Marika and Edward Staempfli.

 




Opus 21b Prélude et Fugue (Prelude and Fugue, 1932)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 5′40 (1’40 + 4′)

Unpublished

First performance: 7 January 1977, Maison de la Radio, Paris, by Jean-François Heisser and Jean Koemer.

 

Although the quarter-tone system of Opus 22 was represented by a cycle of augmented fourths, here these same constitutions (fourths) take on the aspect of raw, massive material and anticipate the Wyschnegradskian system of a regular division of the sound space. In the ‘motor rhythm’ fugue where a linear beginning is quickly abandoned for fields of chords, the composer discretely plays on neo-Baroque body movements of his era and on Stravinsky rhythmic patterns. (Gottfried Eberle, notes from the double-LP released by Edition Block/Berlin – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 22b 24 Préludes (24 Preludes, 1936 rev. 1958-60 and 1974-75)

In all the tones of the chromatic scale diatonicized to 13 notes, for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.








details

Playing time: 42’30

Publisher: Belaïeff

First performances:
– Excerpts: 25 January 1937, at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Ina Marika and Edward Staempfli, followed by numerous performances of excerpts in France, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Russia…
– The complete cycle: 11 December 1986, at Studio 200, Tokyo, by Henriette Puig-Roget and Kazuoki Fujii.

 

The first version of this work goes back to 1934. At that time, it was written in a very strict style, each Prelude containing only the 13 notes of its position. It was in this primitive form that some of them were performed before the war. In the 1960s-70s, I revised the near-totality of the Preludes, introducing ‘chromatic’ notes into them where the situation called for it. Some of them were even entirely recomposed. It is in this form the they are currently published.
I must specify that, despite the striking analogy with traditional diatonicism, I in no way consider diatonicized chromaticism a system meant to play a role analogous to what the diatonic system played in its time. For me at least, it was only a transitory step – very important, it is true – on the path that led me to the conception of cyclic or non-octaviating spaces (see my article ‘Ultra-chromatisme et Espaces non-octaviants’, La Revue Musicale, No.290-291; Paris 1972).

Ivan Wyschnegradsky, excerpt from the Preface to the edition of the 24 Préludes, Op. 22 (English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 23c Premier Fragment symphonique (First Symphonic Fragment, 1934/67)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, four pianists (1958 rev. 67).

details

Playing time: 11′




Opus 30 Prélude et fugue (Prelude and Fugue, 1945)

For three pianos tuned a sixth of tone apart.


details

Playing time: 10’

Unpublished

First performance: 21 April 1983 at Salle Pollack, McGill University, Montreal, by François Couture, Paul Helmer and Louis-Philippe Pelletier, conducted by Bruce Mather.

 




Opus 32 Deux Fugues (Two Fugues, 1950)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 8’35 (3’35 + 5′)

Unpublished

First performances:

– of the second fugue: 20 December 1954 at Le Tryptique concert, Ecole Normale, Paris, by Monique Matagne and Robert Cornman, pianos

– of the two fugues: 10 February 1977 in Montreal, by Pierrette Le Page and Bruce Mather

 




Opus 34 Sonate en un mouvement (Sonata in one movement, 1945, rev. 1953)

For viola and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 10′

Unpublished

First performance: 17 February 1984 at the Hebbel Theater, Berlin, by Dietrich Gerhardt, viola, Klaus Billing and Catherine Framm, pianos.

 

Composed in 1945, but totally rewritten and completed in May 1953, this work belongs to the quarter-tone dimension.
From the shifting resonances of the opening adagio, curving figures emerge on the viola against a cameo of harmonic colour shimmering through the pianos. Then a silence, tinted by Piano II, yields to the allegro moderato, where the scoring for the pianos is based essentially on the simultaneous fluctuance of different planes of sound. lnnumerable mirrors produced by harmonies of fourths question the silence, from which arises a second sphinx (the traditional recapitulation), which this time goes through the mirror and is transcended in the light of the coda
. Solange Ancona, translated by Roger Greaves

 




Opus 35 Transparences I (Transparencies I, 1953)

For ondes Martenot and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 9′

Unpublished

First performance: 20 December 1954, in the Hall of the Ecole Normale, Paris, by Ginette Martenot, ondes, Monique Matagne and Robert Cornman, pianos.

 




Opus 38b Quatuor à cordes n° 3 en demi-tons (String Quartet No. 3 in semitones, 1945, rev.1958-59)


details

Playing time: 16’30

Unpublished

First performance: 17 March 1987 in Berlin, by the Arditti Quartet: Irvine Arditti, David Albermann, Levine Andrade and Rohan de Saram.

 

As the title suggests, the third string quartet is chromatic, containing no quartertones. lnstead Wyshnegradsky uses a changed idiom which has almost archaic propensities.
The single movement structure is similar to that of the second quartet: the same allegro material around a central slow section. Viewed in this way it would be quite plausible that, in the revision of 1958, the third quartet consists of only this one movement, forming, according to Wyshnegradsky’s aesthetics, a homogeneous process.
The second movement – also chromatic – is a solemn processional, an idea not otherwise found in Wyshnegradsky’s slow movements. This conscious allusion to an old musical tradition fits into the realm of the third quartet which, for its part, strikes a somewhat archaic note. This change of style must be understood as the direct result of the related tonal material. In its use of the diatonic the total chromaticism of the turn of the century often conjured up the ,,ldyll » – even though this was compromised or already passé – and likewise Wyshnegradsky associated a similar step in the contrast between the « ultrachromaticism » and the « normal » chromaticism
. Klaus Ebbeke (excerpt from CD Arditti String Quartet, translation: Patricia Göhl)

 




Opus 39 bis Deux Études sur les densités et les volumes (Two Etudes on Densities and Volumes, 1956, rev. 1958)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: Etude I: 5′- Etude II: 4’30

Unpublished

First performances:

– of the second etude: 7 February 1984 at the Hebbel Theater, Berlin, by Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste, pianos.

– of the first etude: 28 February 1991, at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, by Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste.

 

Wyshnegradsky’s opus 39bis, composed in the summer of 1956, is an exercise in the ultrachromatic density of the 24 quarter-tones. The volume is that offered by the two pianos, i.e. almost the full extent of the two keyboards limited here to six and a quarter octaves. The movement of the piece is in three sections, the last of which returns to the opening tempo and attains full volume with maximum density. We witness a polyphonico-spatial movement starting in the medium and tiering into three variations of volumes and positions within the limits of the sound mass drawn into play. The aim is to manipulate sets of sounds captured in clusters rather than separate voices. Claude Ballif, translated by Heinrich Boffelhejm

 




Opus 41 Dialogue à deux (Dialogue for Two, 1958, rev. 1973)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 8′

Unpublished

First performance: 7 February 1984 at the Hebbel Theater, Berlin, by Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste.

 

This Dialogue lets us hear, by quarter-tone glissandi, figures starting from the low to the high registers in two crescendo bursts on harmonies by fourths and augmented fourths that draw ‘non-octaviating periodic spaces’, key to Wyschnegradsky’s harmonic system. After a first climax in a very broad range punctuated by a rest, a second section, with faster fusées, opposes the two pianos at a distance of major fourths and fifths over blends of harmonies by minor fourths and thirds. After a new rest, the last section brings together the two pianos whose figures are going to decelerate, oscillating by quarter-tones. A Coda on a pedal concludes fortissimo in a great resounding chord on the specific harmonic spaces that we have pointed out. Claude Ballif (programme of the concert of 1 March 1985, organized by the Association Ivan Wyschnegradsky in co-production with IRCAM, in the large hall of the Centre Pompidou in Paris – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 43 Composition pour quatuor à cordes (Composition for string quartet, 1960, rev. ’66-70)

In the quarter-tone scale.


details

Playing time: 4’40

Publisher: Belaïeff

First performance: 24 May 1966 in Lyons, by the Margand Quartet: Michèle Margand, Thérèse Rémy, Nicole Gendreau, Claudine Lasserre.

 

Ivan Wyshnegradsky’s opus 43, the Composition pour Quatuor à cordes dans l’échelle de quarts de ton was written in 1960 and is one of the few works to be published during the composer’s lifetime. Wyshnegradsky does not avoid the title « String Quartet » purely arbitrarily. Unlike the single movements of the first and third string quartets, which were so-called also by the composer himself, the Composition does not have an overall cyclic structure. The character of the movement is more reminiscent of a sonata-form allegro. The Composition draws its momentum from an opening iambic motif which obsessively dominates large sections. Thematic statements are hardly more than signal-like motifs – this seems to be a feature of the later works. OnIy a brief middle section shows a different character which, however, soon leads into a rhythmic transitional phase whence it procedes to a recapitulation of the opening with its faltering pulse.
Even here the quarter-tones are not merely an attribute of a harmonic realm which could otherwise perhaps be conceived in semitones. Instead Wyshnegradsky creates new scales and harmonies from the complete quartertone range with which he works as a matter of course. The final chord, more or less a semitone cluster e-g may be understood as an indication of the composer’s intention
. Klaus Ebbeke (excerpt from CD Arditti String Quartet, translation: Patricia Göhl)

 

 




Opus 45a Étude sur les mouvements rotatoires (Etude on the Rotary Movements, 1961, rev. 1963)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart (spring 1961)




details

Playing time: 7′

Publisher: Belaïeff

First performance: 18 May 1962 in the Hall of the Ecole Normale, Paris, by Hélène Boschi, Jean-Charles François, Claude Helffer and Monique Mercier, conducted by Robert Cornman, followed by numerous performances in France, Sweden, Canada, USA, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan…

 

Here we find a principle similar to that of the Magic Square – eight sets of intervals follow one another very closely, thus constructing a mobile octagon fluctuating up and down. The series of diminished fifths only reaches completion after thirteen octaves, far beyond the limitations of audible tonal space. The circling gestures are most noticeable at the beginning and at the end, where the wheel slowly comes to a standstill. The increasing density of the circles forms clusters and chord trills. Gottfried Eberle (LP disc Block, English Translation: Alice Dampmann)

 




Opus 46a Composition I (summer 1961)

For three pianos tuned a sixth of a tone apart.


details

Playing time: 5′

Unpublished

First performance: 21 April 1983 at Salle Pollack, McGill University, Montreal, by Louis-Philippe Pelletier, Paul Helmer and François Couture, Bruce Mather conducting.

 




Opus 46b Composition II (1962)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: 4′

Unpublished

First performance: 21 January 1978 at Radio France, Paris, ‘Ivan Wyschnegradsky Day’, by Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste.

 




Opus 47 Transparences II (Transparencies II, 1962-63)

For ondes Martenot and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.


details

Playing time: 12′

Unpublished

First performance: 16 May 1981 in Bonn, in the framework of the Neue Tonsystem Instrumente Festival, by Tristan Murail, ondes, Sylvaine Billier and Martine Joste, pianos.

 




Opus 49 Intégrations (Integrations, 1963, rev. April-May 1967)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.




details

Playing time: 9′ (4′ + 5′)

Unpublished

First performances:

– 2 November 1970 in Stockholm, Studio 2 of the National Radio House (performers?)

– 23 January 1975 in Montreal, by Pierrette Le Page and Bruce Mather

 

The two Intégrations, Op.49 for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, are perhaps some of Ivan Wyschnegradsky’s most representative works. They were composed in 1967 and, as a result, contain most of the fruits that his long research brought out. Here one finds, summarized and exploited in a purely musical approach, all the notions of which Ivan Wyschnegradsky was fond, of which the most important are: the principle of non-octaviating or cyclic spaces and the systematization of ultrachromatic scales. Philippe Leroux (beginning of a long analysis of the Intégrations in Premier Cahier Ivan Wyschnegradsky, Paris 1985 – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Opus 51 Dialogue à Trois (Dialogue for Three, 1973-74)

For three pianos tuned a sixth of a tone apart.


details

Playing time: 4′

Unpublished

First performance: 21 April 1983, Salle Pollack, McGill University, Montreal, by François Couture, Paul Helmer and Louis-Philippe Pelletier, Bruce Mather conducting

 




Opus 52 Composition pour quatuor d’ondes Martenot (Composition for ondes Martenot quartet, 1963)

For 4 ondes Martenot or 2 pianos and ondes.


details

Playing time: 6′

Unpublished

First performance: 18 January 1993, Salle Pollack, Montreal, Concert in homage of Ivan Wyschnegradsky, with Pierrette Lepage, Paul Helmer, Marc Couroux, François Couture, pianos, the Ensemble d’Ondes de Montréal, Bruce Mather conducting.

 

Opus 52 Composition pour quatuor d'ondes Martenot




Opus 53 Trio à cordes (String Trio, 1978-79)

Revised and completed by Claude Ballif based on Composition for Three ondes Martenot.


details

Playing time: 11′

Unpublished

First performance: 16 March 1981, Maison de Radio France, Paris, by the Nouveau Trio Pasquier.

 

This string trio was commissioned by the UER (European Radio Union) in 1978. Begun that year, the composer left only this first movement, finished in the early summer of ’79. It was the last work by this Russian musician who had emigrated to France in 1922, a friend of Hába and Juan Carrillo. This movement, with a playing time of 11 minutes, is worth a book all by itself. Written for violin, viola and cello, it is constructed as a perpetual variation whose graceful curve follows a double evolution forming a large arc all in one piece. It is still unknown whether the composer truly wanted to stop there or add other movements as he had done for his famous Intégrations, Op. 49 for two quarter-tone pianos of which the melodic research is related to this trio.
Without going into detail in these (see
La Revue Musicale, no. 290-91), the listener is fascinated by the restricted means and singular charm of this ‘economy’ that make this trio a pure masterpiece of writing in density 24 (24 quarter-tones). Great lyrical, generous phrasing takes its source from a unison to soar into the two non-octaviating spaces (dilated octave 25, contracted octave 23) relayed by tritone and minor fifth on the one hand and by the perfect fourth and minor fifth on the other. These two spaces fit into each other, open and close over all the registers of the instruments up to the very end. Claude Ballif (programme of the concert 1 March 1985, organized by the Association Ivan Wyschnegradsky in co-production with IRCAM, in the large hall of the Centre Pompidou, Paris – English translation: John Tyler Tuttle)

 




Deux Méditations (Two Meditations, 194?-5?)

For three pianos tuned a sixth of a tone apart.

details

Playing time: I : 3’15 – II : 2’

Unpublished

 




Deux pièces (Two Pieces, 1934)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: I: 6’15 – II: 3’15

Unpublished

First performance: 25 January 1937 at Salle Chopin-Pleyel, Paris, by Ina Marika and Edward Staempfli

 




Dialogue (1959)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart, 4 pianists.


details

Playing time: 15′

Unpublished

First performance: 28 February 1991 at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, by Sylvaine Billier, Martine Joste, Gérard Frémy and Yves Rault.

 

This further « dialogue » is performed here on two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart played by four pianists. Wyshnegradsky had already written to the same principle of exchanges and echoes a dialogue for two pianos and two pianists (op. 41) and a Dialogue à Trois for three pianos tuned a sixth apart.
This dialogue is remarkable for its conceptual sobriety (cyclic non-octaval intervals of the eleventh regime, i.e. eleven quarter-tones and eleven semitones) and the clarity of the intentions on which the form of the piece is based.
An introduction states mezzo-forte on Piano I, at normal pitch, the eleventh-regime set form (e.g. B, F, Bb, E, A, Eb and so on). Piano II restates the same crisscross set 11 quarter-tones apart, so that B, F and Bb are divided equi-distantly by B E-half#, B D-threequarter# and so on. This is the basis of Wyshnegradsky’s harmonic system as set out in La Revue musicale n° 290-291. The effect of this introduction is to plunge the listener into a serenely grandiose meditation. It has two short sections.
Now the piece can truly begin. It falls into three broad parts of equal duration. The first has five sections and alternates a homorhythmic dialogue of arpeggios and chords with eleven-semitone leaps. The second part returns to the initial tempo (116 = quaver) and is preceded by a point d’orgue. It superimposes triplet patterns on a steady quaver pattern. Pedal motifs are frequent. It is subdivided into five sections corresponding to the numbers in the score. These sections start or end on single sounds functioning as pivots: over D-half#, D-halfb – over a low B forte and ultimately D natural forte. This second part moves to forte and fortissimo via a dialogue of fusées (« rockets ») and contrasting static chords.
The third part plays on register. It is divided into four sections plus a greatly subdued homorhythmic coda which stresses the spectral aspects of the binary-cum-quaternary division of non-octaval intervals familiar to the adepts of Wyshnegradsky’s quasi-ecstatic style
. Claude Ballif (CD 2e2m, translated by Heinrich Boffelheim)

 




Fugue pour deux pianos (Fugue for two pianos, 1939)

For two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart.

details

Playing time: ??

Unpublished




Poème (Poem, 1937)

For two pianos in quarter-tones.

details

Playing time: 9’30

Unpublished

First performance: 5 March 1938 at the Société Nationale de Musique, hall of the Ecole Normale, Paris, by Henry Cliquet-Pleyel and Iska Aribo.

 




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