Edgard Varèse - The Complete Works Of Edgard Varèse, Vol.1


  • £16.99

This three-disc box-set of compositions by the pioneering French-born American 20th-century avant-garde composer Edgard Varèse spans a period of almost three decades, including the first recording of one of his compositions, the Nicolas Slonimsky conducted 'Ionisation' from 1933. 
This collection includes all of Robert Craft's celebrated Varèse recordings with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra and an ensemble of woodwinds, brass and percussion (originally released as two separate volumes in 1960 and 1962), Leonard Bernstein's performance of ‘Arcana’ with the New York Philharmonic from 1958, and Frederic Waldman's sessions with the New York Wind Ensemble and Juillard Percussion Orchestra which produced ferocious versions of ‘Intégrales’, ‘Ionisation’ and ‘Octandre’, released in 1950 as Edgard Varèse Complete Works Volume 1
Some of the notoriety of the Waldman sessions derives from the fact that these are the very recordings that introduced Varèse to the young Frank Zappa. Zappa remembered discovering the composer as an "astonishing experience” and over the ensuing years turned more people to Varèse than anyone else. 
Also included here is the 1954 world premiere of ‘Déserts’, a work conceived for two different media: instrumental sounds and sounds electronically produced. Performed by the Orchestra National with Hermann Scherchen conducting, with tape interjections supervised by Pierre Henry (and at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the same venue where forty years earlier, Stravinsky had scandalised Paris with Le Sacre du Printemps), the recording is a fascinating historical document of modern art. The audience, patient at the outset of the performance, soon protests at the strange juxtaposition of orchestral dynamics and modern industrial sounds. The intrepid conductor battles through the unrest to the end, at which point the audience is a cacophony of appreciative applause on the one hand and hisses and jeers on the other. The conservative establishment was outraged and Varèse would not be invited to work in France again. Nevertheless, 'Déserts' is today considered to be the first important work of electronic music. 
'Poème électronique,' created directly onto magnetic tape by the composer, is an example of "Organised Sound", the technique that came to occupy Varèse's attention on his return to composition in the 1950s, and was created in close collaboration with the architect Le Corbusier for the Philips Radio Corporation's pavilion at the 1958 Brussels Exposition. 
Le Corbusier designed the pavilion in the shape of a three-peaked circus tent externally and in the shape of a cow’s stomach internally. This provided a series of hyperbolic and parabolic curves from which Varèse could project his 480-seconds-long composition. Along these curves, placed with infinite care, were no fewer than 400 loudspeakers through which the Poème swept in continuous arcs of sound. The sound itself was accompanied by a series of projected images chosen by Le Corbusier, some of them photographs, others montages, paintings, printed or written script. The result was both a discordance and accidental concordance between aural and visual impressions. The audience, some fifteen or sixteen thousand people daily for six months, evinced reactions almost as kaleidoscopic as the sounds and images they encountered - terror, anger, stunned awe, amusement, wild enthusiasm. 



New York Wind Ensemble & Juilliard Percussion Orchestra - Frederic Waldman 
  1. Intégrales 
  2. Density 21.5 (René LeRoy: solo flute) 
  3. Ionisation 
  4. Octandre 

    Orchestre National de France - Hermann Scherchen 
  5. Interpolation I 
  6. Interpolation II 
  7. Interpolation III 
  8. Déserts [World Premiere]  

Robert Craft conducts woodwinds, brass and percussion 
  1. Ionisation 
  2. Density 21.5 
  3. Intégrales 
  4. Octandre 
  5. Hyperprism 
  6. Poème Électronique 
  7. Density 21.5 [Severino Gazzelloni: solo flute] 
  8. Ionisation [Percussion Ensemble - Nicolas Slonimsky] 
  9. Ionisation [The American Percussion Society - Paul Price] 

The Columbia Symphony Orchestra - Robert Craft 
  1. Déserts 

  2. Chanson De La'Haut (Song From On High) 
  3. La Croix de Sud (The Southern Cross) 
  4. Arcana 
  5. Arcana [The New York Philharmonic Orchestra - Leonard Bernstein] 


  • Triple-CD set housed in hard clamshell case with 16mm spine 



see also: 
Various - A Revolution In Sound: Pop Culture And The Classical Avant-Garde   4CD 
The French Avant-Garde In The 20th Century   2CD 
The American Avant-Garde In The 20th Century   2CD 
A Young Person's Guide To The Avant-Garde   2CD 


browse collections: 
Unclassical & Modern Composition collection 
Experimental & Avant-Garde collection 
Classical & Early Music collection 
Early-Electronic collection 


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