Category / Instrument
Orchestra / / 4perc / pno / synth.DX7 /
Commissioned by
Birmingham Symphonie Orchestra
Birmingham (UK)
Town Hall
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Simon Rattle (conductor)

Time and again


It is at once a continuation of Murail's previous explorations and a radically new departure. Whereas most of his previous music relied essentially on continuous transformation of the material, Time and Again is abrupt and cut up, resulting in a structure of "flashbacks, premonitions and loops". The image is that of a time machine enabling the listener to jump forwards or backwards through the music so that future moments may be glimpsed or pre-echoed and past oves reviewed - as suggested by the title which is borrowed from a science-fiction novel by Simak. Traces of repetitive, periodic writing remain and are made ail the more powerful by contrast with the volatility of the overall structure. The harmony, which is of such richness and complexity that several of the wind and brass instruments are tuned a quarter-tone lower to perform it, is derived from frequency modulation, but this time the orchestra includes a Yamaha DX7 Synthesizer, so that the instrumental music is confronted with its electronic model. At some moments, when the "time machine" is pushing us backwards or forwards through the music, the harmony is subjected to "spectral distorsion" - a means of compression or expansion, crushing the music into the extremes of treble and bass.
The feeling of continuity so characteristic of Murail's music remains, even if here the continuity is only glimpsed. The music includes several indirect references to Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie, as it were distorted memories of half-remembered music...

From texts by Julian Anderson


1 CD Montaigne/Naïve, MN782175
Désintégrations - Gondwana - Time and again
Ensemble L'Itinéraire, Orchestre National de France, Yves Prin (conductor) - Orchestre Beethoven Halle de Bonn, Karl Anton Rickenbacher (conductor)