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Emmanuel Nunes Lichtung I & II

Lichtung I (1988-1991)

Ensemble Intercontemporain/Jonathan Nott
Technique Ircam: Eric Daubresse Direction artistique : Eric Daubresse, Emmanuel Nunes, Franck Ollu [Octobre 2001; Mixage Decembre 2002].

Lichtung II (1994-2000)

Ensemble Intercontemporain/Jonathan Nott
Technique Ircam: Eric Daubresse, Ipke Starke. [Octobre 2001; Mixage Mai 2002] Direction artistique: Eric Daubresse, Emmanuel Nunes, Franck Ollu.

IRCAM LC00280 [54 mins]

Emmanuel Nunes (b. 1941) is a leading composer and composition teacher in Portugal. These are two of his most important works for ensembles and live electronics and, we are told, they 'explore performance situations at the limit of our perception'. Spatialization is a key element in the computer set-ups, and these complex, modernist pieces are those in this composer's oeuvre which have demanded the most preparation. As my account of attending a live performance in Lisbon suggests, it is not made easier for listeners by reduction to stereo.

As Alain Bioteau writes "- - Nune's music does not give in. Nor does he give in to himself - - ", a tacit reference to the composer's serious physical disability, which does not prevent him from being an easy communicator, as I found when meeting him in Lisbon.

So, plenty of interesting sounds, but musical argument which ordinary listeners will find hard to follow; and which makes recommendation problematic, in comparison with, say, another Iberian composer and recording just reviewed, the orchestral music of Guerrero, which is equally abrasive but far more direct, comprehensible and to this reviwer more rewarding.

25th Gulbenkian Encounters of Contemporary Music Lisbon, 21 May-3 June 2001

- - The Ensemble Intercontemporain's other concert was devoted to two live electronics works by Portugal's Emmanuel Nunes, who was supported by a sizeable number of devotees. What his music is about, I cannot venture to opine, and without access to a commentary one was thrown back, as often during this festival, upon contemplating peripheral aspects of presentation. Seated just outside the central block, not far from the bank of computers and their five (!) operators, a disproportionate amount of Lichtung I reached our left ears from a loud speaker nearby, nullifying what could be seen happening on stage. Moving afterwards to free seats at the exact centre, Lichtung II for a larger ensemble (the 4 percussionists placed behind transparent screens!) came into perfect focus, with a difference as dramatic as had been switching off the air conditioning after protest during Jean-Paul Dessy's recital - but what a limitation it is to have music so dependent upon technology and that can only be heard as intended by a privileged few. - - (PGW & AW)


© Peter Grahame Woolf