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The Varese Album


Format: CDx2

Out of stock

Here is a collection on the indie Wounded Bird Records that was once one of the linchpins of the Columbia Masterworks LP catalogue, yet has never been issued by them or anyone else on CD; The Varèse Album. Issued in 1972, CBS's The Varèse Album was in itself a reissue, consisting of the albums Music of Edgar Varèse (1960) and Music of Edgar Varèse Volume 2 (1963), both featuring pickup groups led by Robert Craft and the first volume including Varèse's own realization on tape of Poème Electronique (1958). In 1972, The Varèse Album was thought to contain near to all of the works of Edgar Varèse, and since then that short catalogue hasn't expanded by much. Listening to these early 1960s recordings of Varèse works that have been recorded many times in the interim is illuminating; while in the seventies this was thought to be the Cadillac of Varèse recordings, time has not been kind to all of these performances. Craft's reading of Ionisation seems a bit fast and sloppy, Intègrales a bit too casual, but Octandre and Hyperprism remain good performances, and Poème Electronique is what it is -- the one and only realization of Varèse's final fully authorized work. The original Columbia releases were inexplicably stingy in disclosing who performed what on these albums; thanks to Wounded Bird, we finally learn that flautist Arthur Gleghorn was the soloist in Varèse's Density 21.5, one of the finest performances on this set. One aspect of this reissue that is not so good is that the original album liner is reproduced at a one-to-one ratio to the CD insert. As a result, the liner notes are literally unreadable -- it is like trying to read a copy of the magna carta as included inside a fortune cookie. While more recent recorded performances of Varèse by Kent Nagano, Pierre Boulez and Riccardo Chailly may offer better sound and more proficient readings of these works than found in The Varèse Album, it is still an important release historically and Wounded Bird should be applauded for returning it to the active catalogue.

Cat. number: wou 1078
Year: 2010

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