Edgard Varèse - The View From The Edge

Edgard Varèse - The  View From The Edge
Release Date:
Chamber Music, Orchestral
The View From The Edge

Even after reading the program notes, it's hard to tell exactly what the organizing principal is behind this collection of orchestral, chamber, and keyboard music of the first half of the twentieth century, beyond the fact that each of the composers represented is noted as having respect and/or affection for the work of one of the other composers. The recordings, made in the 1940s and 1950s, come from a variety of sources, and on the basis of the sound quality, these performances were not taken from original masters, but from LPs or tapes. It's an intriguing, if incoherent, collection of pieces by Varèse, Messiaen, Chavez, Revueltas, and Lou Harrison. Varèse's Arcana, performed by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, from a 1958 broadcast, is energetic and frenzied, capturing the work's wildness, even if it lacks the precision and clarity of more recent interpretations. Varèse is also represented by a performance of Ionization by the American Percussion Society, led by Paul Price, and the same group plays Harrison's Canticle No. 3, in recordings made in 1957. There are five selections by Messiaen from several of his large solo piano collections, and they are played by Yvonne Loriod, so the performance is exemplary, but the sound is barely tolerable. The sound is even worse in Revueltas' Sensemayá, with Leopold Stokowski & His Orchestra, taken from a scratchy LP. Overall, there's little to recommend this disc; even though some of the performances are very fine, there are no rarities here, and all of the pieces have received better performances on modern recordings with far better sound quality. The collection has little to offer anyone except for the historian researching the state of recordings of new music in the '40s and '50s.

Arcana, for orchestraEdgard Varèse17:22
Toccata for percussion instruments
Allegro Sempre GiustoEdgard Varèse4:51
LargoEdgard Varèse3:37
Allegro un Poco MarzialeEdgard Varèse3:28
Sensemaya, for orchestraEdgard Varèse4:53
Regards (20) sur l'enfant Jésus, for piano, I/27
10. Esprit de joieEdgard Varèse8:29
15. Le baiser de l'Enfant JesusEdgard Varèse8:34
Preludes (8) for piano, I/2
1. La colombeEdgard Varèse1:57
3. le mombre legerEdgard Varèse1:47
5. Les sons impalpables du reveEdgard Varèse3:53
Canticle No. 3, for flute (or ocarina), guitar & percussionEdgard Varèse12:25
Ionisation, for 13 percussionistsEdgard Varèse4:20