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Pierre Boulez: Polyphonie X (1951)

Ein gescheitertes, weil zurückgezogenes Werk: ein „tombeau à tête reposée“?

Archiv für Musikwissenschaft
Band 72 / 2015 / Heft 4
S. 277–301


The subject of this article is not Boulez’s earlier version of Polyphonie (1949-1950) with its open form partly based on quarter-tones, but the later version from 1951 with the title Polyphonie X, which was subsequently withdrawn by the composer-a highly complex three-part work for eighteen instruments (at its core a string quartet and double bass) that utilizes a highly differentiated interlocking of three tempi, which not only define the three individual movements but the material within each one as well. Taken as a whole, this leads to a meticulously articulated temporal progression consisting of minimal shifts and alterations of tempo, intended by the composer to be understood as a precise, agogic perception of time (perception du temps). This defining aspect is more successfully realized in Maderna’s, as opposed to Rosbaud’s, recording.

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