> Andre Bouchourechliev [HC]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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André BOUCOURECHLIEV (born 1925)
Quatuor III (1994)
Miroir 2 (1989)
Archipel II (1968)
Quatuor Ysaye
Recorded: Radio France Studio 107, December 2000
ÆON AECD 0102 [56:34]

André Boucourechlievís music has received very little exposure so far, although it was performed fairly frequently in the early 1970s. Very little of it has been committed to disc.

Two versions of Archipel I (1967) for two pianos and percussion were recorded many years ago (ANGEL S-36655) but I cannot remember any other recording of his music. The present release of his works for string quartet spans almost thirty years of his composing career and thus provides an interesting survey of his musical progress over these years. It also bears ample proof of his deep love for and knowledge of the string quartet medium.

Archipel II of 1968 belongs to the series of works for various forces sharing that title: Archipel I (1967, 2 pianos and percussion), Archipel III (1969, piano and percussion) and Archipel IV (1970, piano). All the Archipel pieces are conceived as "open forms" presenting the player(s) with a number of elements, i.e. islands to be reached at the playersí will. However Boucourechliev maintains a firm grip on the material so that the pieces of the series always have a strong sense of direction, and the final results are always musically satisfying. Archipel II consists of two large sheets (A and B). The work opens and closes with material from sheet A whose four basic notes (D, E, low C and A) provide the harmonic poles of the whole work. Sheet B contains seven structures, each of them identified by a letter of the Greek alphabet. The move to any of the structures of sheet B or back to sheet A is announced by a player. At the end a player insists on reaching one of the four harmonic poles, the other players progressively joining in. The music calls for the whole array of modern string playing, including some aggressively percussive sounds, but the demands put on the players always aim at a purely musical goal, achieved by the sheer intensity of the music. A great piece, though a difficult one, that only yields its secrets with repeated hearings.

Boucourechlievís second string quartet was composed in 1989. Miroir 2 is a suite of five movements, the whole being notated in a more traditional way although the second piece partly resorts to "mutual listening" (i.e. some sort of controlled aleatory process) as in Archipel II. Boucourechliev has a great respect for Beethoven about whom he wrote repeatedly and a deep affection for and thorough knowledge of his string quartets. He composed a homage to Beethoven in 1970, Ombres for string orchestra, and Miroir 2 was completed while the composer was sketching his Essai sur Beethoven published in 1981. Previously he had written an important article on Beethovenís string quartets. Miroir 2 contains a quotation from Beethovenís Opus 132, so it may also be heard as another tribute to Beethoven.

Quatuor III was written for the Evian String Quartet Competition held in 1995. It is thus a shorter, comparatively simple work though still very demanding both from the technical and musical points of view. This attractive piece, though by no means easy, is probably the best introduction to Boucourechlievís highly personal musical thinking. It has appropriately been placed first in this release which presents the works in reverse chronological order, ending with the more searching and complex Archipel II.

These substantial works are superbly played by the Ysaye Quartet and warmly recorded. The present release from a new French label specialising in 20th Century French music is a real winner, and pays a deserved tribute to a most distinguished composer whose music is still too little heard. Recommended strongly.

Hubert Culot

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